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Parma residents who voted ’no’ for levy say they just don’t trust the district

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Posted at 7:09 PM, Nov 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-04 19:25:23-05

PARMA, Ohio — They tried everything.

The Parma City School District put out a dozen explainer videos, hosted two dozen community meetings, and even showed residents mock-ups of what they’d be getting.

"We’re frustrated today that we certainly were not able to convince a majority of our electorate to support us,” said Charles Smialek, Parma City Schools superintendent.

The people spoke and voted ’no’ for Parma’s school bond levy.

The district’s slogan was 'Issue 73, our time’ but it was the wrong time for more than 54% of Parma residents.

"Especially during COVID, they’re asking for our taxes to go up hundreds of dollars a year and people are out of work, people are struggling,” said Parma resident Tammy Wuest.

Wuest voted ‘no’ because she says she’s uncomfortable with the district’s track record of handling funds.

"I think if they would have proved better to us how they’re managing our monies currently, then perhaps it would have been a different decision for us,” said Wuest.

Mother of three, Geeya Gibson, said she also voted ‘no.'

"The confidence is not there, I’m not confident that they will do what they’re supposed to,” said Gibson.

Smialek acknowledges what he calls the sins of the past. The district went $7 million in the red several years ago and the community was shocked, but the mistrust does not end there.

"There’s still quite a bit of concern in the community about the previous regime, and financial mismanagement and all the way back in the 90s when there was some corruption with one of our board members,” said Smialek.

It’s something the superintendent knows is one of the main reasons levy after levy does not get passed in Parma, but that does not mean lots of parents aren’t working to shake the stigma.

"For my kids and my family, we’re resilient, we’re going to keep working at this,” said Parma mother of three Angela Marvin.

Marvin says it’s personal and she’ll keep working.

"When I was in high school, I was always disappointed when levies would fail and we would have to cut extra circulars and coursework and things like that, so I knew when I had kids I was going to be actively involved,” said Marvin.

The district plans to put an updated bond levy back on the ballot in the next election.