Stow, Munroe Falls voters will have two school renewal levies on the ballot Nov. 3
Two issues combined generate $11.1 million annually for district
STOW – Voters will consider two renewal levies Nov. 3 for the Stow-Munroe Falls school district.
The Stow-Munroe Falls School Board in July approved two renewal levies to be placed on the Nov. 3 ballot as Issues 37 and 38. Issue 37 is a request to renew a 6.53-mill levy for 10 years which generates $6.5 million annually. It was previously approved in 2011. Issue 38 is a request to renew a 4.61-mill levy for five years which generates $4.6 million annually. The tax issue was previously approved in 2015.
The collection on the current levies will continue through the end of 2021. If they are renewed on Nov. 3, collection on both tax issues would continue uninterrupted from 2021 into 2022.
“These are both renewal levies, which generate $11.1 million annually for the operations of our schools, that will cover teachers, utilities and student materials, technology and other daily expenses,” said Superintendent Tom Bratten in a letter sent to all the families in the district this month.
The two levies combine for 18% of the district’s general fund revenue for the schools, and it encompasses teachers, aides, coaches, operational expenses, and all academic supplies for students, Bratten said.
“Our school depends tremendously on all of our current levies,” Bratten said. “These two levies are on the ballot simultaneously because one is a five-year and the other levy is a 10-year, so they fell at the same time this election.”
If passed, the renewal levies will not increase taxes, Bratten said. The passage of the two levies will preserve current funding. The district is facing $1.2 million in state funding reductions this last year.
“Our district is a good value to taxpayers,” Bratten said. “We have stretched the levy cycle and lived within our means. It’s been nearly 10 years since the district passed a levy for additional operating funds. At the same time, we’ve made several million dollars in reductions over that timespan to stay within our means, while still providing the quality education that our community expects.”
The levies combined are 11.14 mills and revenue for the district is $389.90 a year on a $100,000 valuation of a property, Bratten said.
“This is simply a continuation not a new amount nor increase,” Bratten said. “Again, this is a renewal levy so this is a zero tax increase for all residents. If passed, all monies will be distributed to the general fund to pay for the daily operations of the district.”
When COVID-19 struck, the Stow-Munroe Falls City School District lost $1.2 million out of its general fund from the state, he said. The COVID grant of $677,000 was not a replacement for this $1.2 million loss.
The grant money paid for 35 full-time substitute teachers at the cost of between $500,000 to $600,000 per academic year, Bratten said. The cost for subs through Dec. 31 is about $275,000.
“It was to cover only new COVID-related expenses, therefore we could not supplant our general fund monies lost,” Bratten said. “It was to pay for new expenses we did not have previously. Our COVID-19 grant has been used to secure substitutes for our various positions throughout the district along with cleaning/sanitation supplies to keep our students and staff members safe, as well as technology and academic supplies in order that we can continue to educate our students online and in person.”
Collection on the levies do not expire until the end of 2021. If the levies fail Nov. 3, they would be put back on the ballot some time next year, according to Bratten.
If the levies are not approved before the end of 2021, the school district would have to create a plan that would cut 20% of its funds used to educate the students of Stow-Munroe Falls, Bratten said.
"At this point, we have not created a list of what all cuts would need to be done," he said. "However, when you have to cut that type of money, nothing is safe and everything will need to be examined. Our hope is that the community understands how important this levy is for our schools and our future generations of students, especially given that there is zero tax increase involved."
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Gannett reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org