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Voters approve Waterloo school levy

By Mike Sever | Staff Writer Published: February 6, 2013 4:01 AM
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Call it lucky No. 7. The Waterloo School District passed a new 5.9-mill operating levy Tuesday on the seventh try, and by only 25 votes. The win allows the district to avoid an operating deficit for the near future.

The final tally was 968 to 943, according to complete but unofficial results from the Portage County Board of Elections. Turnout was 32.4 percent, according to the elections board.

"This is just phenomenal, that is great news. What a relief," said Waterloo Board of Education president Brian Pusateri shortly after results were posted shortly before 9 p.m. The 5.9-mill, five-year emergency operating levy will raise $939,557 per year and keep the district out of state scrutiny. Last month, district officials held a public forum to give voters an idea of what could happen if the state had to become involved.

"It's awfully nice the community came through and passed the levy for us. It's very exciting," he said.

Pusateri, who has been on the board for 24 years, said Superintendent Andrew Hill has been working to cut the district budget and pass a levy since he started three years ago.

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"It will be really nice to give him a chance to focus on something other than the budget," Pusateri said.

Passage of the levy doesn't mean the district will be restoring any cuts, Pusateri said.

"Our plan is to maintain the program we have at this time. There's nothing extra in the levy to put anything back in," he said.

Hill was pleased with the levy win.

"How about that? What a good night," he said.

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Hill said he thought people had become more knowledgeable and more engaged in discussing the district's future.

Hill credited the work of the board of education, the levy committee and the community action committee that worked to educate voters in the district, which covers Atwater and Randolph townships in southern Portage.

"It's a great thing for our district. It gets us back on some firmer financial ground," for the five-year forecast period, he said of the win.

The last time Waterloo passed a new operating levy was 1995. Hill said that levy was supposed to last three to five years and lasted 18.

"We will make this money last as long as we can," Hill said. "We will do our best to continue to be good stewards for the taxpayers' dollar and to provide a good education to our kids. We have a responsibility to our kids," he said.

Waterloo voters rejected levies for seven consecutive times, the latest was a 5.0-mill additional levy in November that would have generated about $796,200 annually for five years starting in 2012. District officials had to raise the amount of the levy for this election because the district lost a year of collections.

In the past two years the district cut $2 million out of its budget made the levy as small and for as short a period as possible, Pusateri said.

If the levy had not passed Tuesday, Waterloo officials were ready to try again.

In January, the board voted to put a levy on the May 7 primary ballot to try to avoid an operating deficit. Now that ballot issue won't be necessary.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1125 or msever@recordpub.com

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anonymous Feb 7, 2013 7:11 PM

"Such draconian cuts would mean losing many good teachers, Waterloo Superintendent Andrew Hill said". prev. post... Sounds like a union taking point. Quit, Good, it's a free market, except for union dues. Maybe an unemployed teachers would be glad to work for a lower wage/bene plan. You never know until you try.

anonymous Feb 7, 2013 6:43 PM

But how much sacrifice will be enough?

School officials, parents and voters in four area districts seeking new money on the March ballot Woodridge, Buckeye, Field and Waterloo are asking the same question...Although superintendents have tried to keep cuts away from the classroom, Wages and benefits comprise 73 to 83 percent of those districts budgets....

Akron would need a 12 percent across-the-board wage cut from all employees to eliminate next years shortfall. In some districts, the cuts would be even more severe. Woodridge is so deep in the hole it would take a 32 percent cut in wages across the board to climb out, according to the analysis. In Portage County, Waterloo would have to reduce employee wages by 21 percent. Such draconian cuts would mean losing many good teachers, Waterloo Superintendent Andrew Hill said... From they article;

"Akron teachers negotiations under more scrutiny with November levy looming"...By John Higgins published Jan. 29 2012..

Beacon Journal staff writer<<<<.. Around 80% of the levy money is going to go for wages/benefits. But it's for the children. All school districts need to elect boards that know how to stand up and say No to the unions. The teachers are dedicated, but the union/system they are force to join and support is the problem. The union calls all the shots. Can anybody tell me why teachers need a political action commitee. Why a union at all. Don't the teachers trust the communities to pay them their fair (FARE) share? Hey school boards, Start paying wages/bene's that you can afford. Its for the Children! After the feeding frenzie this $ummer, the $chool$ will be broke again.

anonymous Feb 7, 2013 10:23 AM

Just a Thought: You sound like such a pathetic whiner!! Suck it up, finally the kids at Waterloo have gotten the support they deserve. If you had actually listened at the state forum meeting than you would have heard that students DO tend to leave their home district for open enrollment. Obviously, why would they want to stay in a state ran school district. They did say that is was the state report card that improved not enrollment numbers, but of course I'm not surprised you got that information wrong. So instead of whining and complaining on here save it for the next Tea Party meeting you attend and you can all vent together there. Be happy for the kids because they are our future and education should be worth so much more than miserable people complaining about a $15 a month increase. I'm sure everyone can find a way to spare $15 a month especially to support the children. If you respond to my comment, I will not respond back because I refuse to fuel your ignorant game. As I said, save your comments for your next meeting.

anonymous Feb 6, 2013 3:36 PM

Ghostposter(s) - 9:40am UR looking in all the wrong places! The contracts are not a secret, nosiree, public records they are indeed! Contact the Waterloo School Board office - the might be able to provide it to you electronically! NEW PARAGRAPH 10:39am I agree - start to finish.

anonymous Feb 6, 2013 1:03 PM

Nope.. not a realtor... but I live within my means. I have received a quality education along the way and expect the same educational opportunities for the next generation.

anonymous Feb 6, 2013 12:24 PM

actually what good is having a high property value if you are already having trouble with paying the taxes. your reasoning seems flawed. unless of course your the local real estate agent who was pushing for this on that reasoning. then I would see exactly where you are coming form.

anonymous Feb 6, 2013 12:24 PM

actually what good is having a high property value if you are already having trouble with paying the taxes. your reasoning seems flawed. unless of course your the local real estate agent who was pushing for this on that reasoning. then I would see exactly where you are coming form.

anonymous Feb 6, 2013 10:39 AM

Passing the levy is an investment in your property values. You can pay now, or pay later with falling property values.

If the state had to come in, the money is a loan and would need to be repaid. Money needs to come from somewhere. once again, pay or later.

While I do not agree with all the choices Dr Hill has made, if you take the time to know him, he is a brilliant man with a great vision for the district. I hope he can now focus on growing the programming that is offered at Waterloo.

Finally, The Board members are Elected officials. If you don't like the decisions they are making or their personal politics, run for office or vote them out. The application deadline is in August.

It is too easy to offer up character assasination, yet make no positive contribution to the true cause.

anonymous Feb 6, 2013 10:28 AM

The passage of this emergency levy is like a crack addict getting their fix for the evening. That initial gratification will be very short lived and they will be back looking for that next fix in ever greater amounts......

It did nothing towards correcting the real problem

anonymous Feb 6, 2013 10:21 AM

so korky just why would they have to move to another district. as the man from the state board stated at the last meeting..contrary to popular belief the schools rating tends to improve when the state steps in rather than go down.... with that so is it the children's education you are concerned with? He said they were not sure why, but went on to speculated that the teachers may be trying harder to do their job for fear of loosing it. Sort of how it works out here in the real world isn't it? I really don't see that as a bad thing.

anonymous Feb 6, 2013 10:08 AM

U know this is about our kids not us. So u all would want the state to come take over and the kids have to move to a different school I am glad the levy passed

anonymous Feb 6, 2013 9:41 AM

Well said rck1205

anonymous Feb 6, 2013 9:40 AM

Anybody know when the board/union negotiate new labor agreement wages/beneies? Where could one obtain a copy of the current labor agreement? Any links on web? Or is it a secret? If so, I had a secret clearance in military, I was authorized to know some of our nations secrets. I tried getting info from oea/nea web, but you need to know the secret handshake (password) for the real info.

anonymous Feb 6, 2013 9:40 AM

I'm pretty sure, you're the clueless one

anonymous Feb 6, 2013 9:40 AM

Ok, well if you know me, then tell me how you know me. You did make it personal when you brought my husband into it and said it's strange how opposites attract. With that said, if you knew me at all, you would know that we are more alike then you know!! I do understand you have a home, I believe maybe you have a few. Isn't that Southeast school district though?? You have NO CLUE how well off we are, actually. So I don't quite understand where you are getting your information, Mr. know it all!

anonymous Feb 6, 2013 9:39 AM

4110 people voted on the Waterloo Levy in the Primary election. In my opinion 1911 in a special election is not that bad of a turn-out. I wouldn't consider that questionable means.

abc12345 - Had 26 more voters gone to the polls, statistically 13 would have voted for the levy and it still would have passed.

JustaThought - ""Mr. Pusateri, 24 years working on the board? Why?" may I suggest maybe there are some relatives on the payroll? " I must be reading this wrong because it sounds like what you are suggesting is that election results are being manipulated to get someone on the school board?

Taxes suck, but it is our responsibility to keep them running. It is as simple as that.

anonymous Feb 6, 2013 9:29 AM

koz, you are totally clueless.... My home is in my name and my home is in no way large or extravagant but I'm still setting better than you. Also you are the one who jumped in asking if my rent was going up now. On another point.... quite to the contrary.. I do know who you are. No I don't think you ever waved and no we haven't spoken. As for me making anything personal.. all I said was your husband always came across as a good person and went on to make the observation as to how strange it is the way opposites attract... sorry it was just a simple observation neighbor.

anonymous Feb 6, 2013 9:08 AM

I never said I pay higher taxes then you! However, I pay taxes is all I am saying and the house that I live in may not be as big as your girlfriends but it is ours! I don't need a big fancy house, the one I have suits my family just fine. I wouldn't think I was better than anyone who lived in a smaller home either. You must be such a nice person. Considering you have no idea who I am. I think I've only waved to you maybe twice and we've never spoken to each other. Just remember, YOU are the one who made it personal. I was simply giving my opinion on the levy, which I'm entitled to, just as you are. So with that said, have a nice day neighbor.

anonymous Feb 6, 2013 8:52 AM

Red, I don't know.

anonymous Feb 6, 2013 8:50 AM

Kozma... yes as you put it my rents going up as none of us actually owns anything, we cant take it with us when we are gone.Life is short and we are very temporary.... Now if you are insinuating you in any way pay higher taxes than I you are truly delusional. Maybe some day you'll get out of that little starter place your currently in and you'll see just what taxes are like for the rest of us.

anonymous Feb 6, 2013 8:36 AM

Justathought: I do agree with you 100% about wherever they (BOT) are. I'm glad we can agree on something. Have a nice day. :)

anonymous Feb 6, 2013 8:32 AM

Justa; Do you know when the labor aggrements expire @ Waterloo?

anonymous Feb 6, 2013 8:24 AM

Hey JustaThought, is your rent going to go up now? We are Waterloo! Now my kids and yours as well have a brighter future at Waterloo. You should be happy that your child will have better opportunities now. Thank you to everyone who voted YES! Yes everyones taxes will go up a little but I'd rather pay a little now then a lot later.

anonymous Feb 6, 2013 8:15 AM

red, as to the question "Mr. Pusateri, 24 years working on the board? Why?" may I suggest maybe there are some relatives on the payroll?

anonymous Feb 6, 2013 8:12 AM

And may I add; let that happen where ever you may see them. They are politicians making them fair game where ever they may be.

anonymous Feb 6, 2013 8:08 AM

Just a thought: can you believe it? I actually agree with this statement that you typed regarding the Waterloo BOT: "Remember these are elected officials & they live in our community. Don't be afraid to to let them know what you think & let them know you are watching." See, we can agree on some things. :)

anonymous Feb 6, 2013 7:58 AM

Board President Pusateri,"It's awfully nice the community came through and passed the levy for us. It's very exciting," he said. A 32% voter turnout, and almost half of those that did vote, voted against the levy. Hardly community support. Mr. Pusateri, 24 years working on the board? Why? Maybe new leadership is needed on the board.

anonymous Feb 6, 2013 7:31 AM

Make no doubt about it. There was a method to the madness. I did my part with my vote. Wish others would have as well.

anonymous Feb 6, 2013 7:14 AM

Red, thus the strategy behind paying for a special election in Feb...... They knew it and I guess it worked....... I figured it would have been closer than before but the turnout is simply pathetic!..... I for one will be giving some real hard thought concerning if I even want to be part of this community any longer..... I cant just sit back and let things happen, I can't... but I get a little tired of feeling like I'm fighting alone. As for those who chose to stay in yesterday, I guess we will all be paying the price for your inaction....Enjoy. At least I do derive a little satisfaction in knowing you at least are getting exactly what you deserve..... I cant help but feel for those who truly don't have the money to pay for this.... What will they have to choose between? Taxes or eating? Taxes or medication? Or maybe they simply wont even have a choice and we will be seeing even more empty houses in our community.

anonymous Feb 6, 2013 6:31 AM

Only 32.4% of the eligible voters showed up to vote. 5562 could have voted. Over two thirds of the voting community stayed home..Nothing like getting community support. What a shame! Just a suggestion to Waterloo, maybe a public seminar on Civics, to compliment the seminar on bullying. would be helpful. I hope Civics is still being taught. When do the Educators union contracts expire? Happy Days!!! Shalom

anonymous Feb 6, 2013 6:04 AM

Well Waterloo you got your levy passed. Holding a special election in February apparently paid off. Had 26 more voters gone out and vote, there would not be a celebration. People are suffering financially in this district. Please remember that when you get more of their money. Be a good steward.

anonymous Feb 6, 2013 4:50 AM

Now that they got his though by questionable means the public needs to hold this board accountable. Remember these are elected officials & they live in our community. Don't be afraid to to let them know what you think & let them know you are watching.