September 19, 2014

Elyria
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Audio: Elyria Schools levy passes by a landslide

ELYRIA — Voters on Tuesday gave the Elyria Schools a huge measure of support — renewing a 7.96-mill property tax levy by what easily could be labeled a landslide.

The renewal, which raises about $8.2 million a year and represents about 12.5 percent of the operating budget, passed 8,341 to 4,955, or 62.73 percent to 37.27 percent, according to unofficial election results.

Watching the numbers come in and continuously climb in the district’s favor was humbling, said school board President Don Boddy.

“We have worked so hard to try and build this feeling of trust in the community that we are doing the best with the money given to us,” Boddy said. “That is what we do year after year, and I think I can speak for everyone on the board when I say it’s a good feeling to know the community trusts us and believes in us even when they don’t agree with us.”

Listen to Boddy talk about the levy’s passage:

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In recent years, district leaders have made some tough decisions to bring about fiscal responsibility for the district. Four elementary buildings have closed and the number of teachers has been dramatically reduced.

However, each step has been taken to ensure the district runs in the black, Superintendent Paul Rigda said.

The tax issue’s passage Tuesday solidified Treasurer Fred Stephens’ budget projections for the district — ensuring that it will run without a deficit until 2012.

At that point, however, Rigda said the district will be facing a $3.4 million shortfall. And 2012 isn’t far off, he noted.
“This is our life boat to get us to 2012,” Rigda said. “In May, we didn’t think we would have this problem until 2013. But things changed and that is why this was so important.”

May marked the end of the 2008-2009 school year and the end for two elementary schools, Erie and Roosevelt. At that time, Stephens said he anticipated a boost in state funding that would help the district until 2013.

However, Rigda said the exact opposite happened. The state slashed the district’s funding and then the county auditor said property revaluations will reduce the district’s tax funds by more than 8 percent, too.

“We will just work to remedy this problem, but at least we know we have this renewal behind us,” Rigda said. “We can thank the voters for that.”

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.