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Ravenna residents will face school levy

By Diane Smith | Staff Writer Published: January 8, 2013 4:01 AM
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The new year brings a levy request for Ravenna residents, the first time the school district has sought an operating levy in eight years.

Dennis Honkala, superintendent of the Ravenna School District, addressed City Council on Monday, listing the upcoming levy request as part of an update on the school district.

He said the levy is expected to appear on the ballot in November. Though he doesn't know how many mills the levy will be, saying that decision will be made in the spring, he said it will probably be a combination levy of operating funds and permanent improvements.

"We may add an extra mill for school safety," Honkala said. "We need to be proactive, and unfortunately, those needs cost money."

He said he understands residents are struggling but "unfortunately it's the only avenue we have to increase revenue."

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The district has been doing what it can to reduce expenses. Recently, the district "refunded," or refinanced, its debt for the new high school. The new school cost $26 million, and 47 percent of that was paid through a bond issue residents approved in 2006.

Since the district must split the project in two rounds, he estimated that the initiative would save around $1 million, with residents and the district achieving the savings.

The district's teachers and non-certified employees both recently extended their contracts, agreeing to pick up another 5 percent of their health care costs and freeze wages.

And the district has agreed to close Tappan Elementary School on Bennett Avenue at the end of the school year. Honkala told council that retirements mean that no teachers are expected to lose their jobs. He said the move was a matter of being fiscally responsible.

"We can't continue to spend $32 million when we have a $26 million budget," he said.

The district hopes to rent the facility out. Hiram College also plans to rent the district's building on Walnut Street for a business incubator, he said. The city also agreed to lease Gilchrist Field from the district for soccer.

He told council that the old high school is about two-thirds demolished. The contractors, he said, work from the inside out, removing wood, recycling steel and setting bricks aside for recycling.

He said bricks will be set aside for residents who have contacted the district's business services department, but no bricks will be distributed during the demolition process.

He said a time capsule found in the building will be put in a showcase, and items from 2010, the year the new high school opened on North Chestnut Street, will be added to the showcase as well.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1139 or dsmith@recordpub.com

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anonymous Jan 11, 2013 3:43 PM

Take a look at your tax bill. Look at the amount of money that goes to the school and then look at what goes to all the other government agencies. There is something wrong when the schools get that much and the rest of the state, county, library, and city run on so much less.

anonymous Jan 10, 2013 9:58 AM

Amazing my property value takes a dive - and then they want to turn around and charge me more property taxes! And they say for property improvements............What! it's a new school! Then I read where Portage County is getting a cut of the casino money..........what more do they want? Blood!

anonymous Jan 9, 2013 1:53 PM

Giving money to schools is like pouring 55 gallons of water into a truck full of sand, you wonder where it went, and it doesnt do any good.

anonymous Jan 9, 2013 8:32 AM

No comment Billy? It's alright to be a hypocrite, that's what being conservative is about.

anonymous Jan 8, 2013 5:28 PM

I told you why I do Billy, tell us why you do?

anonymous Jan 8, 2013 5:26 PM

Well said Billy, you are a true conservative. You don't like that I call the liberals names, but it's ok for you to do it. I like you Billy, conservative all the way. These are your words Billy, "Liberal progressives know that for anyone to declare themselves a liberal progressive democrat they are suffering from a mental disorder. They are weak and not entirely aware of their surroundings. They indeed are defenseless and unable to think for themselves" and "democrats are like mindless cows". Billy and I are hardcore conservatives hear us roar.

anonymous Jan 8, 2013 4:31 PM

Sorry tigger...i cannot hate someone just because they have a different opinion.

anonymous Jan 8, 2013 2:18 PM

when does the teachers union contract expire? Crestwood passed a levy in November, and most of the levy money will be in the unions pockets by 1 July 2013. Crestwood teachers froze wages, but the levy passed and the big thaw will be when the union contracts expire 30 June 2013. Then we will need another levy in a couple years. As far as an extra mill for security, since the new school in Ravenna looks like the Portage County Jail, just put a fence an barbed wire around the place, and hire some ex-prison guards to patrol.

anonymous Jan 8, 2013 1:54 PM

I live in a state where your taxes are accessed, which has made these public schools some of the best in the country. My taxes aren't cheap but the education my kids are receiving are better than anything we could of got in Ravenna. Don't get me wrong, I beieve Ravenna schools are great, I'm a proud 1994 Graduate.

anonymous Jan 8, 2013 1:07 PM

Because daddy and I HATE regressive socialists Billy. Don't you? I have been reading your post, we agree on so much. Us critical thinkers need to stick together. And Billy, why are you calling me tigger? I don't understand and now I am confused, you make me feel like some liberal progressive democrat Billy. That's not nice.

anonymous Jan 8, 2013 9:48 AM

tigger...why do you insult the liberal progressive democrats?

anonymous Jan 8, 2013 8:49 AM

Billy, we've got to stop these liberal progressive democrats. If Dennis Honkala were a conservative this wouldn't be happening, because us conservatives are intelligent critical thinkers. Right Billy? People like Dennis Honkala are weak and not entirely aware of their surroundings. They are unable to think for themselves. This also wouldn't being happening if a conservative was the senate majority leader. Somebody like Boehner would do a much better job than Reid any day. Oh Billy, what are we gonna do?

anonymous Jan 8, 2013 8:21 AM

"We can't continue to spend $32 million when we have a $26 million budget," So like DC just tax the rich (and everyone else along the way). But then again DC doesn't have a budget. And never will as long as harry reid has power.

anonymous Jan 8, 2013 6:49 AM

Are you serious??? My sons both graduated in the dumpy old school on main street in 2006 and 2008, I am totally against this school levy Ravenna didnt need that big school to begin with....I am sick of my property taxes going up every time this is voted in. The taxes doubled when the school was built...I am totally against this..

anonymous Jan 8, 2013 6:45 AM

"Hiram College also plans to rent the district's building on Walnut Street for a business incubator, he said."

Good luck with that. This is coming from a college who hasn't improved their HVAC system since it most likely was installed decades ago, refuses to address the people who pay tuition about it as a whole, and continue spending monies on other projects much less important. I'd say trying to rely on this as a source of income for the Ravenna school system should be taken with a grain of salt.

anonymous Jan 8, 2013 6:41 AM


anonymous Jan 8, 2013 6:32 AM

"We can't continue to spend $32 million when we have a $26 million budget." Continue?! That never should have started!