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.
I believe in education and paying my fair share to make sure that children can get that education. I also believe in Democracy, and equal rights for all. This is where a problem arises. I am a lifelong resident of the city of Ravenna. I have been a homeowner and taxpayer for 40 years. I chose not to have children. This sets up the problem with Ohio School funding. In Ravenna , over 70% of the real estate property are rentals. Many of the owners of those properties do not live in the city or township, therefore they cannot vote on school levies. The other side of that is the renters, many who have multiple children, can vote on them. I am beginning to feel helpless and outnumbered with a tax system that is not only unfair, but ruled illegal by Ohio courts. I also believe that everone, including representatives of the School system be truthful. In the past we have been "mislead" by the school representatives regarding the school system. One example is the statement that was made when Ravenna needed a new stadium. Remember when they stated that because of heavy metal pollution at the old stadium, it was unsafe for our children? This is the stadium that they now have decided to lease to the city so the children can have a place to play soccer. Was a cleanup of the toxic grounds completed? Don't remember one. I have many other examples of contradictions made by our School leaders. ( check the micro-film of the Record Courier @ the library.) My problem is that I do not have a solution to our problem. A head tax? An added sales tax? Other ideas? I am sure though that it is not fair to keep taxing homeowners when the Ohio courts say it is unconstitutional. So I expect that the threats of pay to play sports, reduced busing, and other unpopular cuts will be mentioned by the School leaders soon. Oh and put it on the ballot again, (the costs of placing it to vote again, also paid for by my taxes). Is it possible that if as much effort was made by our school leaders to pressure that state to find fair funding for our schools rather than jamming more taxes on the already burdoned property tax owners? I wish at least they would make an effort.
Just take a look at your property tax bill and see how much of it goes to the school. Then think that all the rest run on what is left. Then notice how little money each other agency gets in relation to the school. We need to put some home owners in charge of the money not another professional teacher. It is like the automatic raise that the Congressmen get. They get an automatic raise unless they vote not to accept it that year. Yeah right that will happen.
Hummm...seems as if the voters are disatisfied...
And speaking of the teachers union...what has the union done for the children?
Why do the schools NEVER mention renegotiation of teacher contracts and cuts in benefits there to save money? You will save much more there than by cutting sports and putting more kids on the streets to find "something to do". The teachers just EXPECT a pay raise every year, while those paying their wages have not had an increase in years or maybe have even had their pay CUT. The teachers and schools don't want any of their benefits cut, yet they don't mind at all cutting of the homeowners and taxpayers so that they have less to go around for THEIR food or gas or car repairs or medical or .......... I'm sick of the schools squeezing us dry and NEVER even mentioning the overly generous contracts for union teachers. Eliminate the pension and switch over to a 401k. My company did so 10 years ago and there was nothing we had to make up the difference. Let the teachers and administrators and all other government workers start feeling the pain that the rest of us feel. If the union wants to fight that, eliminate the union and send them packing. There are plenty of fresh graduates willing to teach for the already generous wage.
We ,the tax payers have said no twice in 4 months. What part of NO don't don't they understand? It should be unlawful to put this on the ballot again. Once a year should be the law. What did this tuesday's election cost the tax payers. Cut the sports and other non essentials , extra administrators, and how about cutting some pay like the rest of us have had to except as a way of life.
Maybe the property tax payers were telling the board that they don't have more money. Maybe they were telling them that to pay more tax might mean no electric, or gas or groceries.