November 24, 2014

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North Ridgeville Schools prepared for November try if August levy falls short

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — The school board is hedging its bets.

In an action it hopes will not be needed, the board voted Tuesday to have the county auditor certify millage for a $3.5 million, 10-year emergency operating levy that will appear on the November ballot if the same issue fails at a special election Aug. 2.

“Due to the filing deadline coming up soon, we cannot wait to take care of this,” district spokeswoman Tissy Simon said. “Hopefully, the issue will pass in August and this won’t be needed in November.”

Should the 4.9-mill issue not pass in August, the board will then approve a formal resolution to have the levy appear on the November ballot, Simon said.

Voters rejected the same levy in May.

If passed, the levy is expected to cost the owner of a $150,000 home an estimated $225 a year in additional taxes.

Earlier this year, the district adopted a $2.2 million cost-reduction plan that called for eliminating
23 teaching jobs over a two-year period. Of that number, 12 positions were cut. Eleven teachers were later recalled after the North Ridgeville Education Association agreed to concessions including a one-year pay freeze as part of a two-year contract approved last month. Those concessions are expected to save $400,000 a year.

The cost reductions came in response to the anticipated loss of $1.8 million in state money and federal stimulus funds this year. Over the last three years, the district has seen its funding drop $4.2 million as it lost state and local money as well as stimulus money.

In addition to cutting teaching jobs, the board will eliminate another 30 positions for the 2011-12 school year that are a combination of non-teaching posts and other jobs being done away with through retirements and attrition.

Neither board President Maria Sycz nor Superintendent Craig Phillips, who officially retires Aug. 1, was available for comment Wednesday.

Incoming Superintendent Larry Brown, former head of the Green Schools in Wayne County, declined comment, saying he had not yet been thoroughly briefed on some school issues, including the budget cuts.

If the emergency levy is defeated in August and again in November, the school system is faced with the possibilibty of increased class sizes, possible cuts to extracurricular activities, continued elimination of professional development and teacher training, inability to upgrade classroom technology and delays in buying new textbooks.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.