November 23, 2014

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Midview Schools to begin promised cutbacks

GRAFTON — Midview school officials are going ahead with steps they pledged to make to trim costs for next school year in light of this week’s huge win at the polls for a 10-year, 9.75-mill property tax levy.

“We felt it was a good time to announce making these changes,” Midview Schools Superintendent John Kuhn said Friday.

One of the major measures calls for moving administrative offices from a rented building into a school building.

“Looking past the levy we knew there was the potential for devastating cuts, so we figured it was smart to include all of these measures at the same time,” Kuhn said.

Voters approved the levy — the school system’s first new money since 1993 — by a significant margin of 62 percent to 38 percent in Tuesday’s special election.

Expected to generate $4.6 million a year, the new tax levy will stave off a projected $2.3 million deficit that would have led to draconian cuts topped by 50-plus teaching and non-teaching jobs, the elimination of most sports and arts programs, as well as a shortening of the school day for all grades.

The levy will cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $300 a year in additional taxes.

“We’re working on planning meetings right now to help us with the move,” Kuhn said.

The district now pays rent for administrative offices housed in a building on state Route 57 on the north end of town.

“We know it will be a good long-term savings for us,” Kuhn said, noting that officials have discussed prospects of relocating the school system’s central offices for several years.

A total of nine people, including Kuhn, Treasurer Nicole Spriggs and her staff, and other administrative personnel and secretaries, are housed in the rented offices.

Kuhn referred questions about the cost of the rent to Spriggs, who did not return calls Friday.

“We do know that there should be a significant savings over a period of time,” Kuhn said. “The closer you are located to resources (schools, etc.) the easier it is to share services.”

The district’s central offices were formerly housed in the old Grafton School but were subsequently moved to the rented space as growing enrollment led to new construction over time, Kuhn said.

No decision has yet been made on which building the central offices would be housed in.

“We’re looking at a number of considerations about what building to go into,” Kuhn said.

Chief among them is student security.

“We want to make sure that anybody who has access to an administrative center cannot get access to students,” Kuhn said.

Also under consideration is enrollment. “If enrollment changes again, we don’t want to be in the position of having to move twice.”

All of the district’s buildings — including three new elementary schools, a middle school and Midview High School — are on a centralized campus.

Other savings are expected to come from a restructuring of the central office by elimination of a facilities director, and special education supervisory personnel who would be replaced with contracted supervision from the Educational Service Center of Lorain County, Kuhn said.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.