The Springfield Local School District Board of Education voted Tuesday to place a 9.5 mill levy on the May ballot. Voters in the Summit County district have turned down the same levy three other times and the schools are sliding toward fiscal emergency. ideastream's Mark Urycki has details.
At the beginning of a three hour meeting last night, about 75 people heard how much the district, judged "effective" by the state, had improved in the last few years and they heard teachers say it was well on its way to becoming excellent. But the mood was tempered by what everyone knew was coming - more cuts. The board decided to close Boyer School, an all-day, all-kindergarten school in Springfield Township and spread those classes out to the district's three elementary schools. Parent Gene West told the board it was a travesty to save sports but close a school he said is the envy of every district.
Gene West: Green wants all day kindergarten - they'd die for what we have, and we're so willing to give it up.
All Springfield athletes have to pay to participate in sports but the fees only cover about one-fourth the actual cost. Board President Dan Ternosky explained that if the district cut sports they could eventually lose money.
Dan Ternosky: There are neighboring districts who would love to have our student athletes. And with those athletes goes nearly $6,000. So if you lose 100 kids, you've lost more than $600,000.
Every dollar counts as Springfield tries to cut $1.5 million to break even. A cascade of local mistakes with state and federal cuts left the district in trouble. Superintendent Jerry Pecko said then they were caught by surprise when the state budget passed in 2005 was less than they expected.
Jerry Pecko: We learned that this two-year budget that we just plugged the dollars in from the state on is it's not going to give us 2.2% increase in state foundation dollars. It's going to give us less than one percent each year.
Now arts, music, phys. ed. and special intervention programs will be cut. Some parents say cuts made in the last year or two have driven away some students, exacerbating the problem because that means less state funding. Dan Yost says if cuts get worse his family may opt out.
Dan Yost: We're probably going to move our daughter out. She's in the 9th grade. We're going to have to get her through high school, make sure she gets the best education. Even with these cuts, it's just going to damage the kid's education. Even if the levy passes, we're not going to be able to make up.
But Yost isn't giving up yet. He and his wife are on a committee aimed at passing the levy in May.