Voters in Twinsburg school district could see renewal levy in May

April Helms
Kent Weeklies
Superintendent Kathryn Powers talks about the district's financial needs to the school board. Behind her is Treasurer Martin Aho. Also pictured, on the stage, are board members Angela DeFabio, left, and Adrienne Gordon.

TWINSBURG – The Twinsburg City School district could place a $5 million renewal on the ballot in 2021, as early as the May 4 election.

According to records from the Summit County Board of Elections, the levy was last approved by voters in November 2010 as a 10-year, 5.03-mill issue.

Treasurer Martin Aho said the levy expires at the end of 2021. He called the renewal “a critical piece of Twinsburg City School District's funding model,” and passing it will ensure that “collections will continue uninterrupted.”

The renewal came up for discussion at the school board’s Oct. 1 work session.

Board President Mark Curtis asked whether the board should discuss whether to keep the levy at 10 years, or put it on the ballot as a permanent levy, one that would never be voted on again. Curtis added that he was “neutral” on the issue. Felber said that making the levy permanent “could take the pressure off voters.”

Board member Adrienne Gordon said she would prefer the levy remain for 10 years.

The board has the rest of the year to decide.

The act of placing a levy on the ballot involves two steps, Aho said. In the first step, the school board requests that the Summit County Fiscal Office calculates the millage needed for the district to raise the $5 million. The second step is for the school board to request the Summit County Board of Elections to place the levy on the ballot.

“With the uncertainty created by the COVID virus, it is anticipated the Twinsburg City School District will pass the first resolution in December 2020 and the second Resolution in January 2021, out of an abundance of caution,” Aho said.

Though the renewal levy's millage rate remains to be calculated, Superintendent Kathryn Powers said that in 2021 voters will see the expiration of a 2.5 mill bond issue that was used to construct the current high school, which was opened in the winter of 1999.

Board member Rob Felber said he understood that going repeatedly putting renewals and levies on the ballot was fatiguing for voters, and the pandemic has made the financial situation for many perilous.

“This is our funding,” Felber said. “This is how our schools are funded. We can argue about the constitutionality of it, but it doesn’t change things. I understand about the downturn but if we start failing levies, housing properties go down, it becomes a vicious circle.” Felber added that the community has offered “great support.”

Board Vice President Tina Davis said she would rather go to the voters "earlier than later.”

Reporter April Helms can be reached at ahelms@recordpub.com