September 2, 2014

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Voters reject Keystone Schools levy

Committee volunteer Brad Copley and Treasurer Don Griswold watch election results for the Keystone Schools levy on Tuesday at The Depot in LaGrange. KRISTIN BAUER | CHRONICLE

Committee volunteer Brad Copley and Treasurer Don Griswold watch election results for the Keystone Schools levy on Tuesday at The Depot in LaGrange. KRISTIN BAUER | CHRONICLE

LAGRANGE – Despite his best efforts, including making a bet to run 60 miles if the Keystone Schools levy passed, Superintendent Jay Arbaugh will have to find another way to finance the district’s operating expenses.

Keystone’s five-year, 5.95-mill levy was turned down by voters Tuesday night with just 749 voters – or 40 percent of voters – voting for the levy, according to unofficial returns.

The levy promised to bring in an additional $1,422,658 annually for the district, with the money paying for wireless technology, dual enrollment and advanced placement classes at the high school, among other programs.

Arbaugh said the district may be looking at cutbacks without the extra money coming in from the levy.

“At the next meeting, the board will be approving a reduction plan of a half million dollars, and that will be the start of dealing with our budget issues,” he said after news of the levy failure.

The district hasn’t passed an operating levy in more than 20 years, according to Arbaugh. He said despite being fiscally responsible – and having the lowest taxes of any district in the county – residents still turned down a levy, and he’s not sure why.

“The bottom line is, we haven’t passed an operating millage in 20 years,” he said. “You can’t get blood from a turnip. Something’s gotta give.”

Keystone’s levy asked a homeowner of a $100,000 home to pay an additional $17.35 per month. The additional money was needed due to a substantial loss in state funding over the years, he has said.

At a levy meeting late last year, Treasurer Susan Bement said the district received $2.6 million in state funding, down from the $6.9 million that was received in 2009. In addition, Bement said the district will not see an increase in state revenue during the next two years.

Keystone and Olmsted Falls were the only Lorain County school districts not to pass a levy on Tuesday, but they were the only new money issues on the ballot. Elyria, Wellington, and Sheffield/Sheffield Lake schools saw their renewal issues all pass.

Olmsted Falls’ 30-year, 1.8-mills levy was to fund an addition to the high school, needed for the growing student population.

Arbaugh said he was unsure if Keystone would try to put another levy on the ballot.

“We’re a little disappointed,” he said.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @ChelseaMillerCT.

  • SniperFire

    Why no mention of the Rec Center, C-T?

    Isn’t this is the Superintendent that insulted the voter intelligence by creating a false choice between a rec center and passing a school levy?

    Yep. ‘However, if the levy does not pass, there will be no community or recreation center.’

    http://chronicle.northcoastnow.com/2014/03/16/keystone-schools-seek-rec-center-tax-levy/

    And I think I read where the mayor had to do a ‘letter to the editor’ retraction on it.

    If I lived in that district I would question keeping around a Superintendent that tries to deceive the public.

    • Sue Lawson

      “LaGrange Mayor Kim Strauss said the passage of the levy is crucial because not only would it bring a community and recreation center to town, but it would also allow the Police Department to relocate and possibly add a senior center and fitness center.” Relocate the Police Department? Unbelievable.

  • Sue Lawson

    Would all the people who wrote letters to the editor about passing school levies, please contact our governor to change the way schools are funded?

  • Summer Smart

    Keystone is not the lowest; Midview is. He needs to quit saying that.

  • William Suggs

    Keystone is the lowest. Midview just passed a huge levy last year. Go to the auditors website and look for yourself.
    Also,Sniper fire crawl back down to you mom’s -out of district- basement that you live in and ask her if its smart or dumb to talk about things you have no clue about. I think you should listen to her advice.

    • SniperFire

      Well, clearly they didn’t insult YOUR intelligence. There is a minimum baseline for such things.

      For the rest of you in that district, I would question everything they say.

      For example they say this in several articles:

      ”At a levy meeting late last year, Treasurer Susan Bement said the district received $2.6 million in state funding, down from the $6.9 million that was received in 2009. ‘

      So are they saying their operating budget has dropped $4.3 million per year since 2009? I find that hard to believe.

      Perhaps the 2009 amount was a one-time shot, and it is being falsely portrayed as continuing money they once had but do not have any longer? I don’t know, but I would make them prove it.

      Fool me once, shame on me.

  • golfingirl

    Is that a Pabst Blue Ribbon in the background?

    I thought they quit making that stuff.

  • mariarosario

    Honestly, I cannot see why it is my responsibility to provide funds for wireless technology, dual enrollment and advanced placement classes. If the music and sport students have to pay to play, so should dual enrollment and advanced placement. These are not programs available to all students. I pay for student fees every year in addition to the taxes I pay, for what? I never see any books, work books, lesson plans etc. There is no tutoring or student aids available either. I have asked for all of these things and have been told they are not available. My child was told they could bring an iPad or tablet to school. Why don’t they teachers use the equipment they have? Don’t you have your smart boards? I saw them at open house. Why is my child watching Youtube for lessons? Why aren’t teachers teaching???Why on earth would I pay one more cent? I have been through two strikes at Keystone from the teachers and never saw any benefit passed on to the students. Then they threaten tax payers with class reductions, busing, or changing the school year plan and pushing it into Fair week. Does this school system really think we don’t remember what has been done over the years? Now I have to deal with my children being taught this Common Core nonsense and you want us to vote for a levy??? How can you say you don’t know why we vote no?

    • SniperFire

      ‘ I have been through two strikes at Keystone from the teachers and never saw any benefit passed on to the students.’

      The dirty little secret is that 85% of a school budget is salary and benefits. Come levy time, they only talk about the other 15%.

      Everytime.