August 28, 2014

Elyria
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Midview school board approves elimination of 53 positions if levy fails

GRAFTON — Midview Schools leaders on Wednesday challenged residents to support a levy eliminating a $2.3 million deficit and the need to make substantial layoffs and program cuts.

“It’s time for this community to step forward and take responsibility for educating its children. Period,” Board of Education President Dave Zunis told some 300 people at Midview High School’s gymnasium. “You are either part of the problem or part of the solution.”

Voters, who haven’t approved a new levy since 1993, are being asked to pass a 10-year, 9.75-mill property tax levy Feb. 5 that would raise $4.6 million annually. The levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $298 annually.

Board members unanimously approved eliminating 53 positions — 20 teachers, 30 non-teaching positions and three administrators — if the levy fails. The district, which has a $28.5 million annual general fund budget, has about 340 employees, including about 250 teachers.

Failure also will mean the district will go to minimum standards. Kindergarten through fourth grades will be reduced to five hours daily and fifth through 12th grades would go to 5½ hours daily. Busing for students who live 2 miles or less from schools would be eliminated, affecting between 100 and 200 of the district’s approximately 3,300 students. Most art, athletics, foreign languages, library service, and music would be eliminated, as well as Army Junior ROTC.

“These are devastating cuts to these kids,” Superintendent John Kuhn said. “It’s not good for your community.”

Regardless of the levy’s passage, the district plans to save $269,000 annually by not replacing a retiring elementary school principal, moving the district’s central office into one of its five schools and moving special education supervisory services in-house.

Eaton Township Trustee Linda Morrison said the busing change would endanger students forced to walk to school.

“Shame on you,” Morrison told board members.

Resident Elizabeth Bistline said she graduated from the district and resented Zunis saying she was part of the problem because she opposes the levy. Bistline said she can’t afford higher taxes.

“We’ve told them so many times we can’t do this,” Bistline said, referring to the 14 levies that have failed since 1993, including an income tax/property tax levy in November.

However, most of the approximately 15 people who spoke at the meeting expressed support for the levy, including students, former students, parents and a teacher. High school sophomore Elizabeth Klienhenz said she might be forced to transfer if the college courses she’s taking are eliminated.

“People have accepted me here,” she said. “It’s come to be a family.”

Barb McDonald, a 2010 Midview graduate and student at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, said early college credits she earned in high school will allow her to graduate a year early, saving $25,000 to $30,000 in tuition. She said eliminating after-school activities like band would cost students scholarship money.

McDonald urged voters to pass the levy and lobby state legislators to reform education funding.

“It’s a huge problem, and we have to fix it,” she said.

Cash-strapped

Midview Schools have been hit hard by a lack of local, state and federal money.

  • At a $7,888 average per student, Midview ranks 601 out of Ohio’s 613 school districts in spending per student.
  • The average spending per student in Ohio is $10,571 and the Lorain County average is $9,739.
  • State taxpayer money to Midview dropped from about $12 million annually in 2008 to $10.7 million this year.
  • About $2.5 million in federal stimulus money received between 2009 and this year has been eliminated by Congress.
  • In 2006, Midview received about $782,000 from the Tangible Personal Property Tax, a business tax. This year it received $1,530 from the tax which has been eliminated.
  • Stock market investment income dropped from nearly $294,000 in 2008 to $11,358 this year.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.