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Loss at the polls: North Olmsted school district plans for cuts after levy fails once again

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Posted at 7:21 AM, May 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-06 07:23:58-04

NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio — After a major blow at the polls, the North Olmsted School District is trying to figure out what to do next.

“We've not passed an operating levy in our community for over ten years now,” Superintendent Dr. Mike Zalar said. “So, we're disappointed in the outcome. However, we understand that taxes are a sensitive issue.”

Zalar says the failed 8.5 mill levy would have generated more than seven million dollars annually to help maintain current educational programs and replace teachers as they retire or resign.

Due to COVID-19 costs, the district spent an additional $4 million. Zalar says to save money, the district has already made transportation changes and its soft hiring freeze for the past 8 years may continue. He says certain curriculum including advanced placement courses may also be at risk.

“We can only stretch so far. We need to replace our teachers so that our class sizes don't get out of hand,” he said. “We have a very deep and wide curriculum and we're very proud of that, but you know at some point we're going to have to make some changes if we're not able to fund that adequately.”

The district is getting some COVID-19 funding from the federal government, but Zalar says it's not enough to supplement operating costs.

“This community has always been very supportive of their schools. We know that they're going to rally and support us at some point. We just need to do more education…get more information out to them on the true status of our district finances.”

The school board will meet Wednesday, May 6 at 6 p.m. to discuss the next steps. We’re told no formal actions will take place right away.

RELATED: May 4 Primary: Here's how Northeast Ohio voters decided on school levies