NORTHEAST OHIO — We’ve seen coronavirus shatter traditional school plans and gut school district budgets across the state. Back in May, the state cut $300 million from K-12 school funding. Though, many districts were able to get federal funding from the cares act. Now, as the virus continues to strike, school leaders are desperately leaning on votes to help them survive. The details and costs of the levies and bonds on ballots across Northeast Ohio vary and some come with a lot of controversy.
“There’s multiple layers to the frustration in our community. One of them dates back all the way to some corruption eras in the 90’s,” Parma City Schools Superintendent Charles Smialek said.
Parma’s Issue 73 is possibly one of the most controversial. The 6.5 mill bond aims to raise fund in order to receive a chunk of state funding to consolidate schools and build a community center.
“We actually haven’t gotten new money since 2011,” said, Parma City Schools Superintendent, Charles Smialek. “The last new school that we opened was Normandy in 1968.”
Approval would mean a homeowner with a $100,000 home would pay nearly $19 dollars more in monthly taxes. Taxpayers in Cleveland Heights are facing a similar increase only the district’s 4.8 mill levy would up taxes to about $14 a month.
“I’m willing to make that investment long after my daughters graduate. I’m willing to invest in future generations,” said Cleveland Heights resident Soryah Queen Tador.
The money is arguably needed to help the district overcome a financial crisis.
“Undoubtedly it will be cuts to teachers and that will raise class sizes and that will mean that we can’t offer all of the important programming that we offer,” said Krissy Dietrich Gallagher, Co-Chair of Tiger Nation 4 Strong Schools.
But not everyone agrees. There’s a lot of concern circulating that not everyone can afford a tax increases many face financial burden stemming from the pandemic.
“People are clearly hurting right now and now is not the time to be raising taxes to schools that are already heavily, generously funded, said Mo Lynn, Treasurer for Tiger Nation 4 Lower Taxes.
That’s exactly why Monroeville local schools’ superintendent fears his district’s levy could fail, despite it’s consistent renewal since 1972.
“$80,000 dollars is what it generates but in this day and age every penny counts. If we were to lose it, it would have a significant impact on the district,” said Monroeville Local Schools Superintendent Ralph Moore. “Things are just too unsettled right now. I’m not confident about us being in school tomorrow so it’s just a different time and you can’t take anything for granted.”