Homeowners in Lorain asked to throw school district a financial lifeline

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Posted at 5:06 PM, Nov 01, 2021

LORAIN, Ohio — A lot is on the line for Lorain City Schools this Election Day. The district is projecting a budget deficit of $13 million in 2023. That number is expected to balloon to $66 million by 2025.

"Just throwing money every time you got a problem isn't going to take care of it," said Gus Peskiris.

Lorain property owners like Peskiris are now being asked to help shore up the shortfall at the polls.

"Every time you turn around it's another tax, another tax, and I'm tired of paying taxes and not getting nothing on it in return," said Peskiris.

The retired Ford plant employee cast his vote against Issue 37 Monday morning.

"I did go against it, because I think all these taxes have been wasted; they're not using it the way they're supposed to," said Peskiris.

Issue 37 would cost the average resident $238 a year if they owned a $100,000 home.

It would give the district more than $4 million annually for operating expenses beginning in January.

"If people challenge how we spend money, I recommend calling and we can talk about it," said Dr. Jeff Graham, Superintendent Lorain City Schools.

Graham said it has been nearly a decade since they requested a levy increase.

“It's intended to get you five years and we got nine. So, I think we can demonstrate that we've been respectful to our taxpayers," said Graham.

If Issue 37 fails, Graham said the financial fallout will be deep.

"When we cut, we lose teachers, we lose support staff, we lose quality programming," said Graham.

The request for a cash infusion comes as Lorain City Schools tries to emerge from under state control.

"We're in a great position to get our district back. There are certain benchmarks that we have to reach over the course of the next three, four or five years, and we can't do it through, you're not going to get there by just making cuts," said Graham.

We know turnout at Board of Elections for non-presidential years is typically low, something supporters of Issue 37 have been trying to counteract with increased canvassing in neighborhoods and making calls.

"So, even if we pass the levy, we still have to demonstrate some more efficiencies," said Graham.

That's something Gus Peskiris wants to see regardless of the outcome at the polls on Tuesday.

"The money's going to fix the problem? No. Money doesn't always fix the problems. It's the people fixing the problems," said Peskiris.