The Ravenna Board of Ed-
ucation didn't waste any time deciding whether to return to the voters with the 4.9-mill school levy that they rejected last Tuesday. The board decided to seek a February vote on it the day after the election.
Board member Mike Tontimonia summed it up best: "It's not a want. It's a need."
The levy bid that lost by about 600 votes was the first request for new money for the Ravenna schools in eight years, so "levy fatigue" wasn't a factor in its defeat. It was a "no frills" request -- with no money for pay raises, because the district has contracts in place for employees through 2016. There were specific limitations on how the levy funds could be spent.
School officials say they have no choice but to make a second try at persuading voters to pass the levy. The Ravenna district, like most in Ohio, has seen state funding and local support decline and has been able to make ends meet by reducing expenses. Further cuts will impact the quality of education students will receive.
The levy request being returned to the ballot is identical to the measure rejected last week. It is straightforward in terms of how the money will be spent: 1.9 mills earmaked for permanent improvements and maintenance for district facilities other the high school, which has its own improvements levy, and the remaining three mills to be spent on school security, technology and restoring programs that have been cut.
The levy will bring in an additional $1.5 million per year for the Ravenna district, which isn't a windfall but will boost its financial stability.
Between now and February, school officials will be making contingency plans that will be implemented if the levy bid fails, including changing the millage for future funding requests and re-examining how the funding will be allocated. We hope the second campaign is able to turn the tide with voters.