December 22, 2014

Elyria
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Keystone to cut 5 teachers, freshmen sports

LAGRANGE — After voters’ rejection of a 5.95-mill operating levy earlier this month, Keystone school officials knew they were facing budget cuts.

This week, the school board eliminated five teaching positions as well as the job of a special education aide and a cleaning position.

The teaching slots include two elementary and two middle school positions, as well as one teacher at the high school, according to Superintendent Jay Arbaugh.

The board also voted to eliminate softball at the middle school as well as all freshmen sports at the high school.

The district looks to save $610,000 from the cuts, according to Arbaugh, who said further cuts will follow should voters again reject the issue in November when it is expected to be back on the ballot.

The school board and administration will hold a community meeting June 23 to discuss the impact of the levy failure and where the district looks to go from here, Arbaugh said.

“Our intent is to be on the ballot in November and, if we are not able to pass anything then, we will most likely be implementing further reductions immediately,” Arbaugh said.

The scope of additional cuts has yet to be determined, he said.

“We’ll be reviewing it and have a plan to present to the board,” Arbaugh said.

Those proposed reductions will be discussed with the community sometime during the summer, Arbaugh said.

About 40 percent of the voters who cast ballots May 6 were in favor of the five-year operational levy. The levy would have generated $1.4 million annually.

“We have not passed an operating levy for new money in 20 years,” Arbaugh said.

While the district has gone without new operating money for years, it did get a new $11.5 million middle school built due in part to a financial plan that used tax revenue from 2.19 mills originally used to pay for the district’s high school.

Despite being able to lower taxes via refinanced bonds for a new elementary school, the system “simply can’t continue to do things the way we’ve been doing them for the past 20 years,” Arbaugh said.

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