November 28, 2014

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Black River levy fails; high school busing to be cut, pay-to-play fees coming

SULLIVAN TWP. — High school busing will be cut and pay-to-participate fees are going to jump at Black River Schools following Tuesday’s 7.5-mill levy defeat.

Unofficial results show voters in the district that spans three counties — Medina, Lorain and Ashland — rejected the levy by 1,237 votes to 782.

Board President Mike Gannon said he was “disheartened” by the results.

“It doesn’t surprise me,” he said. “The times are really bad.”

The levy would have cost property owners $236.26 a year per $100,000 of appraised value, according to the Medina County Auditor’s Office, netting the district about $1.4 million a year for five years.

The district was placed on fiscal caution Feb. 18, which means the state now looks over Black River’s finances each month.

District officials have said the district faces a $750,000 deficit by June 2012 without new operating funds.

Gannon said it is obvious why voters turned down the district’s request for new operating money, something it has asked for only twice since 1997, including Tuesday.

“They voted no because they can,” he said. “They can’t vote no at the gas pump. They can’t vote no at the grocery store. … It’s no mystery.”

The board already has voted on what will be cut in case the levy failed.

Pay-to-participate fees will increase from $250 for one sport at the high school to $500. A second sport will cost $250. Students at the junior high will have to pay $400 for a sport.

“That’s a lot of money,” Gannon said. “You’d think the parents who have kids playing sports would figure out it’s cheaper to vote for the levy.”

Busing will be eliminated at the high school and all-day kindergarten will cost $1,780.

Recommendations for additional cuts may be coming, Gannon said, although layoffs are not likely due to several teachers retiring at the end of the year.

“There’s nothing left to cut without affecting the kids, and I feel so bad for them,” he said. “It’s a sad day.”

Contact Jennifer Pignolet at (330) 721-4063 or jpignolet@medina-gazette.com.