The Ravenna School District is going back to the voters on Feb. 4 with the same request it made in November: Approval of a 4.9-mill continuing levy that would raise $1.5 million for the schools.
The levy proposal is identical to the one voters defeated last fall. It earmarks 1.9 mills for permanent improvements and 3 mills for operating expenses, with 1 mill set aside for technology upgrades, 1 mill for school safety and 1 mill for programming, including restoration of programs that have been cut.
The need for the levy hasn't changed, either. It is imperative that the Ravenna district obtain additional funding. The district has lost nearly $3 million in cuts in state support since 2011 and has been able to "make do" by reducing its expenses. Further cuts will adversely impact the quality of education.
Ravenna voters have not been asked to approve additional local support for their schools in eight years. The request before them at the February special election is a "no-frills" levy. No money is being requested for pay raises because contracts are in place for all school employees through 2016. Every penny will be spent for basic operations.
It takes money to maintain schools. The 1.9 mills earmaked for permanent improvements and maintenance will provide funding for district facilities other than the high school, which has its own improvements levy. The remaining three mills will deal with other needs that must be addressed: upgrading school security and technology and restoring programs, such as foreign language instruction, that have been curtailed because of finances.
Ravenna's schools have made considerable progress in terms of academic achievement. Superintendent Dennis Honkala and the Board of Education have been prudent stewards of district resources. An additional $1.5 million per year isn't a windfall for the schools; it's an investment in maintaining quality education for the young people of Ravenna.
We strongly recommend voters in Ravenna and Ravenna Township support Issue 1 on Feb. 4.