September 18, 2014

Elyria
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Lorain Schools plans doubleshot at levy

Lorain Schools may place a levy on the ballot in August and, if it fails, again in November, school officials say.

Branham

Interim superintendent Ed Branham, district Treasurer Dale Weber and board President Tim Williams visited The Chronicle-Telegram on Monday and discussed the district’s finances, as well as the planned levy.

The amount of the levy has not yet been decided, nor has the type, whether it will be an earned income tax or a property tax.

“We’re going to try to go before the community and ask for the least amount that we think they’ll give,” Branham said.

Lorain voters have not approved a new levy since 1992.

Williams said officials plan on asking for a levy that is smaller than they have sought in the past, “knowing that it’s not going to get us zero deficit, but closer to manageable,” he said.

The number of district employees that will be laid off will be announced at a school board meeting March 29, and the names of the employees will be announced in April. The layoffs are part of about $7.4 million in cuts, and the remaining projected deficit for the 2012-13 fiscal year is $4.7 million.

The district is expected to go into fiscal emergency next year, which means a five-person state commission takes on some of the functions of the school board and comes up with a financial plan in order to deal with the crisis.

Weber said he did not think the approval of a levy would prevent fiscal emergency. Despite the district’s troubled finances, officials said they expect enrollment to increase with the building of the new high school at 2600 Ashland Ave. The school’s construction is expected to take four years.

Branham, who will remain in his position until December, said a search for a new superintendent will begin in April, and he hopes the search committee will choose someone from Ohio or Northeast Ohio.

Contact Kiera Manion-Fischer at 329-7123 or kfischer@chroniclet.com.