November 21, 2014

Elyria
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Wellington school levy loses narrowly

WELLINGTON — Voters narrowly defeated a 5-mill continuing levy Tuesday night with 1556 for to 1621 against in a move that will put the district in the red by 2013, said Wellington Schools Super-intendent Francis Scruci.

“Obviously, when you come up short you don’t feel very good,” he said. “We have some decisions coming up.”

The levy would have raised $940,000 a year to maintain the district’s buildings and current operating expenses.

Further complicating the district’s financial future is the possible loss of $600,000 in state funding. That possibility has had the district cutting costs by not filling vacant teaching or administration positions and employees agreeing to pay freezes. Ninth grade sports were also eliminated along with high school busing.

More cuts are coming, Scruci said.

“I’m going to sit down with our board and we’re going to have to prioritize where we’re going to have to make some cuts,” he said. “We’re going to have to make some difficult decisions. Everything’s going to be on the table. Cutting athletics, maybe shutting a building down, maybe staff cuts. I wouldn’t like to do any of those things, but certainly nothing’s going to be sacred at this point.”

Scruci said he’s heard the state may make significant cuts to education but said he won’t have a clearer picture until the state presents a budget at the end of June.

“We’re hearing as much as 30 percent and as little as 10 percent (in cuts),” Scruci said. “Regard-less, you don’t make that up with your own cost-saving efforts. You’re going to need some help.”

In light of the narrow loss — only 65 votes — Scruci said another levy attempt is probably in the district’s future, he said.

“Obviously, we’re going to have to,” Scruci said. “If the state’s not going to help us out with any kind of relief, then you have to do it at the local level. We’re going to need help from our citizens.”

School Board President Sally Stewart could not be reached for comment.

Contact Alicia Castelli at 329-7155 or acastelli@chroniclet.com.