November 21, 2014

Partly cloudy

Elyria school board moves to place renewal on ballot

ELYRIA — Voters will likely see a 4.95-mill renewal levy on the November ballot as Elyria Schools seeks to continue its operating revenue.

The first step toward getting the issue on the ballot was taken Wednesday night by a pared-down board of three members — Mike Gebhardt, Don Boddy and Kathryn Karpus.

Members Ginny Hawes and Evelyn France were absent from the meeting, but both have long said they support the renewal because it will result in no new money for taxpayers.

“This has always been a part of our financial picture and something we have talked about a lot with the community,” Boddy said. “We have three renewals we need to pass in the next year, and this is the first.”

This renewal will continue to bring in about $4.3 million a year to the district.

District Treasurer Fred Stephens included passage of it as well as two other renewals voters will likely see in May 2014 when he presented the district’s five-year forecast in May. At that time, he said the district would be OK until 2017 with the cuts that have already been made, if all of the renewals pass and if the state doesn’t make more cuts to funding.

In other news:

  • McKinley Elementary School Principal Lonnie “Chip” Hall is retiring and a veteran educator from Clearview has been hired as the new principal. School board members voted to hire Virginia Fitch as the new principal. She will have a starting salary of $87,500. Fitch comes from Clearview’s Vincent Elementary, which was ranked as being excellent with distinction when the state last ranked schools. “Her reputation more than preceded her,” Superintendent Paul Rigda said. “When she got to me for an interview, I knew she would be a great addition to the district.” Fitch said she was ready to lead McKinley. “I promise you … I will work my tail off for Elyria Schools,” she said. Rigda said Fitch was humble in her work, which makes her the kind of person who would fit perfectly in Elyria’s team-first approach. “We’re not looking for egos and when we talked to her, she boasted about her staff and the hard work they were doing in the district.” Hall was an administrator for many years, several of them at McKinley, which is consistently ranked as one of the highest-achieving elementary schools in the district.
  • Lunch prices in the districts will go up at the beginning of the school year. A 5 percent increase was approved by school board members to cover meals, a la carte items and catered items. The increase is because of increases in food, fuel and other related costs. The increase will also align food costs with the average difference between the free-meal reimbursement and the paid-meal reimbursement.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or

  • guest

    Was this the money to build the new school? If it was it should be voted down.

    • Pete Veliconia

      No, this is operating money ONLY, the money for building the High school is completely separate. It is a RENEWAL which means it would keep the same tax rate with no increases.

  • Pablo Jones

    Every year the Elyria School’s spends roughly $400,000 more each year on wages and benefits for school district employees. This cost comes from raises, step increases, health care increases, and pension benefits. Even if they add no additional staff it still goes up roughly $400,000. That is why they make cuts and then say the levies must pass to prevent additional cuts. But then 2 years later then need to make additional cuts and pass more levies again.

    • Danny Boy Blue

      Good comment, Mr. Jones. I wish EVERYONE would know the truth. Let’s see some published photos of union district leaders homes and their money spent on frivolous entertainment.
      What ever happened to old-fashioned, work hard and get paid better attitudes.

  • Confused Tax Payer

    Hmmm, Elyria City School Board wouldn’t RENEW Elyria High School’s Asst. Principal Sam Dickerson’s Contract, but hired a Principal with a STARTING Salary of $87,500? ANOTHER School Levy going on the Ballot in November for Renewal? Wasn’t Mr. Dickerson’s Contract NOT Renewed because of so called Budget Cuts, but its funny that the School District has suddenly FOUND money to HIRE a New Principal for McKinley? Where is their Asst. Principal, couldn’t he/she moved up into the Principal position? Something just doesn’t sound right or add up about that.
    I’m wondering what is the REAL reason that Mr. Dickerson’s Contract wasn’t Renewed? I do believe the School Board and Superintendent knew all along that the Principal at McKinley was Retiring, already had their mind set that they wasn’t going to Upgrade the Assistant Principal into the Principal position, and also already made up in their mind (but had to bring it to the Public) that they weren’t going to Renew Mr. Dickerson’s Contract. Out of ALL the Assistant Principals throughout the School District, it was him. “Her reputation more than preceded her,” Superintendent Paul Rigda said, HMMMMM. I believe the Sit-in the Kids done for Mr. Dickerson showed how much of a Reputation and impact that he had at Elyria High. Will they stage another one if someone else’s Contract wont be Renewed that’s on Staff at Elyria High or any other School in the District? I BET my last Dollar…….NO!!!

  • Joe Sandor

    A NOVEL IDEA: A reduction in operating expenses and a lowered operating levy. Do effective cost cutting and continuous improvement(s).