Cardinal Local School District in Geauga County passed its school levy for the first time since 1992.
Prior to resident's voting, administrators said if their $5.5 million tax levy didn't pass Tuesday, they had the potential to fall into a fiscal emergency, in which case the state would take over to make sure they’re operating within their budget.
The Geauga Board of Elections showed an unofficial tally of 1,319 for the levy and 1,056 votes against the levy.
The levy will generate $1.7 million for the district's general fund. The district will start collecting funds in 2018.
Superintendent Dr. Scott J. Hunt released a statement in the wake of the levy passing.
“It will be almost a year before we see any of the money come to the district, so unfortunately, this doesn’t reverse any staffing and program cuts that have already been made, but what it will do, is ensure that we can continue to operate and work to put the district in a better financial position
If you drove around Middlefield, signs planted in many front yards read “Vote Yes!” or “I love Cardinal Schools,” that attempted to push people to vote in support of the tax levy to fund the Cardinal Local School District.
“We haven’t passed new operating dollars here since 1992,” said Superintendent, Dr. Scott Hunt.
This has been the hardest test Hunt has had and so far he’s failed. The levy failed by eight votes in November.
“In a district this size, we have about 1,100 students, there’s not much more to cut to save dollars so yes, it would impact our kids tremendously,” he said.
Every attempt since 1992 in Middlefield to raise new money to fund increases in the district’s operating budget has failed, so deep cuts have been barely keeping the district’s head above water. 21 layoffs later and $1 million in cuts before the 2017 school year, Hunt says the district is about to be drowning.
“Yea it’s disappointing because you’re working hard to try to maintain what you have for the students here,” he said.
“A lot of people say that it’s a lot of money, they’re on a fixed income or a lot of people are like we just don’t want to support the school, we don’t trust where the money is going,” said Cardinal High School student, Hanna Traggiai.
Even students have took up the fight for the levy’s passage. Traggiai and Cardinal High School Junior, Brandan White have tried to convince voters it’s worth the $16 a month average household tax increase.
“I say I respect your decision, I hope that maybe you can come around and change that opinion,” said Traggiai.
But in Middlefield with large Amish and elderly populations, administrators say convincing voters has not been easy. If this levy doesn’t pass, school officials say the district will fall into a fiscal emergency, prompting the state to take over control and make sure the district operates within its means.
“Some of the local control we have would disappear and some things we would be told to do to make sure we’re operating in the black,” said Hunt.