July 30, 2014

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Midview levy foes speak out at board meeting

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EATON TWP. — Parent Lynne Schroeder told Midview school board members at their Wednesday meeting that she was speaking for many residents.

Schroeder, who has three children in the district, praised her children’s teachers, but said she doesn’t know if she will vote for the Feb. 5 levy. An emotional Schroeder questioned whether the district, which projects a $2.3 million deficit, is frugal and if its finances are as dire as school officials say. And she said Ohio’s school funding system is squeezing taxpayers.

“I feel like I’m handcuffed and I’m being held hostage by the cuts you’ve proposed, and, quite frankly, I’m angry. As are a lot of voters,” Schroeder said. “There’s not one voter in my neighborhood that wants to vote yes, and we feel like the district has not been fiscally responsible.”

Less than two weeks before a vote on the 10-year, 9.75-mill property tax levy that would raise $4.6 million annually and cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $299 yearly, supporters face an uphill battle. Voters have rejected 14 levies since 1993. Since 2000, Lorain County voters have only approved one new levy in an election held in February or August.

If the levy fails, Midview, which has about 340 employees and an approximately $28.5 million annual budget, will eliminate 53 positions. Twenty teachers, 30 nonteaching positions and three administrators would be cut as well as busing for students who live two miles or lessfrom schools. The busing cuts would affect 100 to 200 of the district’s 3,300 students.

Kindergarten through fourth grades would decrease to five hours daily and fifth through 12th grades would drop to 5½ hours daily. Most art, athletics, foreign languages, library services and music would be eliminated, as well as Air Force Junior ROTC.

Superintendent John Kuhn stressed the cuts are the only way to avoid going broke. Insolvency would trigger a state takeover.

“The plan cannot be defended as a good idea or constructive to serve our children,” he said. “However, the plan has to be implemented, if necessary, in order to start working on reducing the budget deficit.”

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. Midview is receiving about $1.3 million less annually in state taxpayer money and $789,000 less because of the elimination of the business tax known as the Tangible Personal Property Tax.

Nonetheless, opponents accuse school officials of being wasteful and their arguments may be gaining traction. The meeting was the last before the levy and only about a dozen parents attended compared with some 300 people who attended a Dec. 20 meeting. Only about 30 people attended two levy briefings held by the board at the Grafton Public Library last week.

“I really feel sorry for you guys,” said parent Alex Trujillo who opposes the levy. “People are not showing up.”

School officials promised Schroeder they’d answer her questions, but she said after the meeting that she’s still undecided.

“My heart wants to vote yes for my kids, but my head says no,” Schroeder said.

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