The Cuyahoga Falls City School District is asking voters to approve Issue 12, the renewal of a five-year, 4.75-mill levy on the May 2 ballot.
We urge voters to pass this measure to help continue paying for expenses such as salaries and benefits, supplies, contract services, equipment, transportation and maintenance that are necessary for the district's ongoing operations. The levy costs a home valued at $100,000 $140.49 per year ($136.59 annually if the home is owner-occupied), according to district superintendent Dr. Todd Nichols. It will not pay for any potential building projects that officials have discussed during the past year.
Since it expires at the end of the calendar year, the issue must be approved sometime in 2017 to ensure the uninterrupted annual collection of $3.3 million that goes into the district's general fund. It is not an additional tax for residents.
While the district has reduced expenses in various areas this year, officials are looking at significant cost reductions for the upcoming school year even if the levy is approved this week. Nichols told the Falls News-Press this past week that he is planning to present a financial plan to the School Board May 3 to reduce expenditures by approximately $2 million for the 2017-18 school year even if the levy is renewed the day before. Though the reductions would be focused on staffing, Nichols said there will also be discussions on changing policies in an effort to limit the impact on staffing. Nichols also noted that if the levy is not passed sometime in 2017, he would recommend more cuts, which would "require additional reductions in programming."
Recently, middle school students have been given more opportunities to prepare for the high school's college credit plus program. Other programs recently implemented include a welding program, an advanced manufacturing program, and a criminal justice program. If the levy is not approved at some point in 2017, programs such as these and others that are outside of minimum operating standards could be affected, according to Nichols.
School districts rely greatly on property tax revenue. Efforts at the state level to change the school funding formula have done little to ease the burden on local taxpayers. Thus, the continued passage of levies such as Issue 12 are critical to a district's livelihood and it's worth noting the primary beneficiaries of the levy are the students.
We're surprised and disappointed that the district and levy committee have not put forth as much information to the public about this levy as other levy campaigns. Indeed, Matt Weiss, the co-chair of the levy committee, noted that the committee did not have a social media presence. Nichols told us the committee is "doing the best they can with what they have" given that this is the second levy campaign in the last six months. He also added that, "there is no intent to reduce advertising" of the levy, and further stated "any appearance thereof is as a result of a reduced levy committee with limited funds." Even if voters have not heard as much about this levy as other recent requests, the importance of passage remains the same.
This is why we strongly recommend that district residents support a continued quality education for its students by voting "FOR" Issue 12 on May 2.