October 22, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
46°F
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Midview Schools supporters make case for levy at briefings

GRAFTON — The consequences of rejecting a Midview Schools levy should be incentive to pass it, levy supporters said at a Wednesday briefing at the Grafton-Midview Public Library.

The 10-year, 9.75-mill property tax levy to be voted on Feb. 5 would raise $4.6 million annually, if approved. The levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $299 annually in a district where voters have rejected 14 new levies since 1993.

Supporters said they commiserate with residents who say they can’t afford the levy, but said a $2.3 million projected deficit for 2014 would mean devastating cuts. School board members last month 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 two 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 Air Force Junior ROTC.

“If the levy does not pass, we’ll be going back 50 years in my mind,” said Don Binnie, a 1956 Midview High School graduate and school board member from 1968 to 1984. “Our backs are up against the wall.”

State business tax cuts, the Wall Street crash and the expiration of federal stimulus spending shrunk district finances, Treasurer Nicole Spriggs said. She said only 13 of Ohio’s 613 school districts spend less than Midview per pupil. Midview spends $7,888 per student, compared with the county average of $9,739 and the overall Ohio average of $10,571.

“We are very frugal,” Spriggs said. “We try to deliver a strong, quality program for your tax dollars.”

Resident Rick Paul, one of 10 people who attended the evening briefing — school officials said about 20 people attended a morning briefing — said elderly residents are sympathetic. However, he said, they’re struggling to pay bills like heating costs.

“We don’t want to see the schools crumble,” he said. “But I don’t want to get cold either.”

School board member Gary Wilson said Ohio is one of just five states where voters, rather than legislatures, approve school funding. Wilson, a board member since 2003 who also served from 1978 to 1993, said getting levies passed is always difficult.

“It requires everybody participating in order to make the school system work,” Wilson said. “We’ve got a highly desirable school district and, I’m sorry folks, we’re going to lose that.”

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