July 30, 2014

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MIDVIEW LEVY: Voters keep Middies sailing

EATON TWP. — In a stunning reversal of fortune, voters Tuesday approved the Midview school district levy.

The resounding approval came just three months after a decisive Election Day defeat.

Tuesday’s 3,892 to 2,359 tally was an approximately 62 percent to 38 percent victory, according to unofficial results from the Lorain County Board of Elections.

The victory was nearly inverse to the Election Day defeat when the levy lost 6,058 to 3,866, a 61 percent to 39 percent defeat.

The levy faced uphill odds. Midview voters had rejected 14 levies since 1993. Since 2000, Lorain County voters had only approved one new levy in an election held in February or August until Tuesday.

Compass Committee co-chairwoman Jill Schaefer attributed the turnaround to parent involvement and voter education about the dire financial straits the school district faced.

Midview faces a $2.3 million projected deficit in the upcoming school year. The 10-year, 9.75-mill property tax levy will raise $4.6 million annually and cost the owner of a $100,000 home nearly $300 more annually.

Rejection would’ve meant cutting 53 positions, including 20 teachers, 30 non-teaching positions and three administrators. The district, which has a $28.5 million annual general fund budget, has about 340 employees, including about 250 teachers.

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

“Once those (proposed) cuts were announced, people woke up and realized just how bad things have gotten,” Schaefer said. “We were getting landslides of people saying, ‘What can we do? We didn’t understand things were this bad.’”

Committee members spent about $5,000 on literature and signs, according to Lori Meek, committee treasurer. Supporters went door to door lobbying voters while Midview officials stressed their predicament was a revenue problem and not because of overspending.

Just 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 got the right facts into the right people’s hands,” Schaefer said. “I can’t tell you how many people said, ‘I’ve never voted for that levy and said I never would, but this time I’m changing my mind.’”

Lobbying continued Tuesday. Midview High School sophomores Courtney Santa and Jaci Ventura said they spent about 90 minutes in the cold outside polls holding signs supporting the levy. Santa said she and her mother knocked on doors over the weekend stressing that local taxpayer money wasn’t spent on building the high school football stadium.

“They realized that we do deserve it and that education is really important,” Santa said.

In the high school cafeteria, about 200 parents and children gathered to wait for election results. Many wore blue T-shirts that said, “Don’t Sink Our Ship” on the front and, “SOS — Save Midview Schools, Vote Yes” on the back.

Supporters erupted in cheers as the results were shown. They hugged and high-fived one another while some cried tears of joy.

“Thank you to this group and all the hard workers,” Superintendent John Kuhn said to applause. “You guys really did it.”

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