Voters in the Ravenna School District -- or at least the 14 percent who bothered to turn out at the polls for Tuesday's special election -- have said "No" again to the district's request for additional funding, but that doesn't mean that the issue is going away.
The Ravenna Board of Education has decided to make a third try at passing the 4.9-mill levy, which now will go before the voters again in May. And, in the meantime, school officials will consider cost-cutting measures that could have a significant impact on the children of Ravenna.
While the rejection of the levy by nearly 300 votes can be seen as a "message" from the electorate, the district's financial situation remains unchanged and seeking local support for additional funding is virtually the only alternative it has, barring major cuts in staff and programs that could adversely impact academics. The board has no choice but to renew its appeal to the voters, with the hope that an aggressive campaign to pass the levy may lead to its passage.
The cost-cutting options under consideration include effectively eliminating neighborhood schools, grouping youngsters by grade levels instead. Ravenna already has done this with its kindergarten program, which was consolidated at a single location several years ago.
Other options include reducing busing, a course of action the district has taken in the past following the rejection of school levies, and instituting a pay-to-play policy for athletics. Pay-to-play could be a revenue source, but only in terms of defraying expenses; the cost of athletics exceeds the return on a fee-structured program.
Despite the district's declining enrollment, closing a school is not an option at this time. With the closing of Tappan Elementary in 2012, school facilities are at about 80 percent capacity.
School officials will decide on which cuts will be implemented after further discussion. The best case scenario, though, would for voters to reconsider the levy and pass it in May. The Ravenna district has gone without additional local funding for eight years; "making do" won't work anymore.