The Field school district is facing the growing possibility of a state takeover unless voters can be persuaded to approve additional local funding.
Voters have turned down four levy requests, the most recent being a 5-mill levy on the November ballot. A fifth try is inevitable, given the district's finances.
In the meantime, school officials are weighing an additional $900,000 in budget cuts in order to balance the books for 2014. That's on top of the $1.5 million cut from the budget in the past two years.
Options include cutting sports, extracurricular student activities, all-day kindergarten and not replacing retiring staff members. Busing already has been curtailed and other cuts that have affected students and faculty also have been implemented. Additional cuts will have a further adverse effect on the quality of education for the young people of Brimfield and Suffield.
Brimfield was the fastest growing community in Portage County in the 2010 Census; hundreds of new homes have been built, and there has been considerable commercial and industrial development. Suffield, to a lesser extent, also has seen growth. Such growth is an indication of a progressive, dynamic community -- one that ought to have a top-notch schools. That won't be the case if Field's downward spiral continues.
Superintendent Beth Coleman is in the process of writing a recovery plan, a state-mandated document outlining the district's plans for addressing its finances when it appears that it won't be able to balance its budget. This is the third plan she has written during her tenure.
If Field can't get its finances in order, the district will eventually come under state control, a drastic measure that enables the schools to continue to operate. The state won't be paying the bills; levy requests will continue to be placed before voters and consolidation with other neighboring districts becomes an option if levies continue to be reject. The Field community could lose its schools.
Division within the Field community and the Board of Education haven't helped matters. Neither have the continued questions about Superintendent Coleman's tenure.
"We've got to take care of the Field Local School District, whatever it takes," school board member Larry Stewart said during Monday's board meeting. "First, we've got to pass a levy."
That sums it up. It's time for the Field community and the school board to put its differences aside for the good of the young people of Brimfield and Suffield and make a united push to get a levy passed. The alternative will be a painful one.