April 17, 2014

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Black River rallies for levy on Tuesday’s ballot

SULLIVAN — Patrick Hines is campaigning to keep his job. But he’s not an elected official — he teaches industrial technology at Black River High School.

Patrick Hines, industrial technology teacher at Black River High School, displays some of the work his students have done Sunday at a tailgating rally held to support the school district’s 8.7-mill levy on Tuesday’s ballot. (CT photo by Kiera Manion-Fischer.)

He’s actively supporting the district’s 8.7-mill levy Tuesday’s ballot because, if it fails, he expects to be out of a job.

School officials have said that without new money, the entire industrial arts program would be one of many programs slated to be cut next school year.

If he loses his job, it wouldn’t be the first time.

Hines said he’s worked for five different districts over a 14-year-career and two of those jobs were eliminated because of failed levies.

Hines, who specializes in woodworking, displayed his students’ work, including clocks, bookshelves and end tables, at a tailgate party held Sunday at Black River High School’s football stadium in support of the levy.

“The skills I’m teaching … you can make it a hobby, you can make it a business,” he said.

The rally also included carnival games organized by student groups and performances by the high school band and cheerleading squad.

Should the levy fail, there will be no money for improvements to buildings, all advanced placement and industrial arts and wood courses will be eliminated, any teacher who retires this year will not be replaced, and pay to participate will increase from $375 to $400 per sport, all in the 2013-14 school year.

The five-year levy will cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $266.44 a year, and bring in $1.6 million in new operating funds for the district.

Voters haven’t approved a levy providing additional money for the district since 1997.

The levy’s passage will allow the district to continue operating at its current level, officials said.

The state placed the district on “fiscal caution” in 2011, the third worst category for districts in financial distress. The roughly 120-square-mile district serves students in Medina, Lorain and Ashland counties.

Cathy Aviles, middle school principal, said the school’s one guidance councilor is retiring at the end of the school year, and likely won’t be replaced next year.

She said she felt optimistic about the levy passing, though. She said she hasn’t seen this much enthusiasm in past levy attempts. This time, she said students are becoming more involved with the campaign.

“The kids are taking this very seriously,” she said.

Senor Kaitlyn Kish, 18, and sophomore Niki Minnich, 16, who are on the cheerleading squad, said they feel strongly about supporting the levy.

Kish said she plans to vote in Tuesday’s election. She’s part of the Teacher Education Academy, administered by the Medina County Career Center, where students learn about becoming teachers. Kish said she’s observed how class sizes have increased at the elementary level. “I want them to have the same experiences I had,” she said.

Minnich, who is in the National Honor Society, which recognizes academic achievement, said her class had 19 inductees this year. “I don’t want to see that go down,” she said.

She said that if more cuts are made, she feared missing out on academic clubs and extracurricular activities, which stands out on college applications.

Contact reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or kfischer@medina-gazette.com.