Northeast Ohio school districts hope for a win at the polls

MEDINA COUNTY, Ohio - None of the students in the Cloverleaf Local School District were born the last time voters approved a new operating levy. It was 23 years ago and the years since then have taken their toll on Cloverleaf's budget.

"January of 2012, Cloverleaf was placed in fiscal emergency," said Superintendent Daryl Kubilus, Jr. "We didn't have enough money to pay our bills."

The 2,800-student Cloverleaf School District is made up of ten villages and townships in southern Medina County. But many of its financial challenges are the same as those faced by school districts throughout Ohio, regardless of size.

Medina City Schools are seeking passage of a 5.9-mill levy that would raise $7 million a year and restore programs.

"We have cut over the last five years over 20 percent of our staff," said Interim Medina Superintendent Dave Knight. "That amounts to a huge amount of programming."

WEB EXTRA: Interim Medina Schools Superintendent Dave Knight talks in the video player above about shifting from neighborhood schools to clustering if the 5.9 mill levy fails.

In addition to Cloverleaf and Medina, there are nearly 30 other school districts with money issues on the ballot in northeast Ohio next Tuesday, both levies and bond issues. 

Only one-third of the levies on the ballot in August passed, and school districts are hoping they can be as successful as Cleveland schools were one year ago when voters overwhelmingly approved a 15-mill levy.

"I think generally the message was that we're moving Cleveland forward but the only way we can keep this momentum going is to get the schools to move forward, too," said Mary Anne Sharkey, Communications Consultant for the Cleveland levy campaign. "People who are trying to pass levies in other communities need to understand it's the field organization that's key. You have to communicate with the voters."

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