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Cuts Coming if School Levy Fails, Busing Returns if Passed

The Stow-Munroe Falls School Board said if the levy does not pass in November, it's prepared to cut several items or increase some fees to help make ends meet.

The school district is looking to cut about $500,000 from its $55 million operating budget if the November school levy fails or reinstating high school busing if it passes.

Treasurer/CFO Catherine Bulgrin said the $500,000 figure is under consideration by the district and board and could be higher.

The weighed its options during the Sept. 12 meeting.

Possible cuts that could be made if the 6.57-mill 10-year levy on the Nov. 8 ballot does not pass:

  • Busing K-8 would be reduced to the 2-mile state minimum. Students who live less than 2 miles from their school building will no longer have transportation offered to them.
  • Closing all elementary buildings and at 4 p.m.
  • Closing and at 6 p.m.
  • Closing all buildings on the weekend.
  • All field trips eliminated.
  • Closing one or more school buildings. (An independent committee will be made up of local citizens to review a building and recommend whether they should be closed.)
  • Pay-to-play fees will double for the 2012-13 school year.

Currently, it costs $150 per sport, $100 for band and $100 for other activities. There is a $450 family cap and students with free or reduced lunches receive a discount.

If the levy fails, cuts would be effective Nov. 14 of this year. The district plans to discuss the cuts further during its Sept. 26 meeting at 7 p.m. at the high school. 

If the levy does pass, high school busing will be reinstated with cluster stops. 

A  would generate $6.5 million annually for 10 years and would cost the owner of a $100,000 home:

  • $201.21 annually
  • $100.60 for half a year
  • $16.77 a month
  • 55 cents a day

If passed, the first collection would be in 2012. The district has not collected new money since 2002.

Issue 2, the same 6.57-mill levy,  Aug. 2.

The cuts listed above are only going to be made if the levy does not pass Nov. 8, said Superintendent Russ Jones.

The district has cut millions from its budget since 2002. Most recently, the board approved in April. Employees also took 

"We've done our due diligence to keep our nose above financial water with all these reductions," said Jones.

Click to see previous cuts made.

"It's pretty amazing when you think about how we were ranked 'Excellent' for the first time five years ago and are still ... we've maintained that all along the way and we've been cutting," said Jones. 

According to the five-year financial forecast, the district would be $2.29 million in the red by 2014 if new money isn't passed. 

"We’re at the end folks. We have made it our mantra to keep out of classroom. Now we have levy on ballot, with no new dollars since 2002 … it's time that the community invest in the school district and its children," he said.

Jeanne Fencl September 16, 2011 at 11:03 PM
Everyone needs to remember the next BOE meeting is on Monday September 26 @ 7PM. At the Stow Munroe Falls High School. Great questions being asked, and should be answered. I really stress that the community needs to show up at this meeting and ask these questions.
Misty Pawlin September 16, 2011 at 11:04 PM
Cameron: Sadly, no, most people can't afford to pay anymore; we are tapped out. And.....we have seen too much money wasted. We have seen millions spent on bloated salaries and over compensation - not on the students. You students should march down to the school board and demand that they put your needs first - not theirs.
Misty Pawlin September 16, 2011 at 11:11 PM
It is not the teacher's place to send their students home with a political agenda - suggesting how parents should vote - ESPECIALLY when their own salaries and benefits are at stake. **This is called a conflict of interest.** If the school board learned to live within it's means they wouldn't need teachers to tell parents how to vote.
Chris Frisoli Perko September 17, 2011 at 06:06 PM
How about we all attend the next Board Meeting on September 26th and DEMAND answers to all of our questions. We need to support all the kids that go to all of our schools and we need to support our community. @ Misty- if the levy keeps failing and our school system sucks...whose gonna want to live here! Your property value is going to sink if our school system sucks...think about that!!
Chris Frisoli Perko September 17, 2011 at 06:44 PM
Bill I have never been to a board meeting before and have heard from several people that questions are not answered, that is sad. Why have open board meetings if people aren't allowed to speak or have their questions answered? Maybe this is the time we actually go to a board meeting and not stand for the actions of the board members, maybe it is time for us to stand up for our children once and for all!!
Karen Gonidakis September 17, 2011 at 09:58 PM
Cameron and Amanda: Thank you for coming on here and voicing your concerns. It's wonderful to hear from the kids. Please know that many of us understand that the schools need more money for the basic needs and I think some type of levy needs to pass. However, there are people who are incharge of our money that are not making wise decisions. They are willing to sacrifice your basic benefits before their own extravagant benefits. This is what many of us are trying to straighten out and request to be changed. I am happy to pay for you to have good teachers, approrpriate books, enough paper, etc. while also allowing you to participate in activities, whenever they may be. Money is tighter for many these days. 3 out of 7 houses sold in Stow this week were either sold or bought by foreclosure. It's a tough reality for many of us. Keep asking questions and don't lose focus that the citizens/parents of Stow are standing behind you while striving for accountability and responsibility.
Karen Gonidakis September 17, 2011 at 10:03 PM
Teachers are influencing the kids by suggesting the levy should pass. They see one side of it and are using the kids as their messengers. Teachers/Staff should not be making kids feel like they need to side with them. Talk to your parents about the levy and what their feelings or ideas are on it. Don't just assume if your parents don't vote yes on the levy (or anyone's parents) that they don't support our schools. It's not one in the same thing.
Don Daugherty Jr. September 19, 2011 at 08:14 PM
@Cameron, everyone who has a student in the system should be furious at this type of action. It is ILLEGAL to involve anyone under the age of 18 in promoting or working against ANYTHING that is to be voted on by the people. So please parents, let the teachers and BOE know that they are breaking the law. The only other solution is to do what they did in Green a number of years ago. Recall and replace the entire board.
Misty Pawlin September 20, 2011 at 06:59 PM
How about the school board shop for a more affordable medical insurance plan as so many companies in the private sector have done? The Cadillac plan needs to go, and the savings would be far more than $400,000. It goes without saying that everyone on the plan should pay at least 20% into the plan - never mind this piddling 5% or 10%. It's time to stop the taxpayer funded gravy train.
YOUR BEST FRIEND September 20, 2011 at 07:09 PM
why don't they look at a outside school busing company . which save the city alot of money .No benefits to pay , no cost of maintenance on busses, no bus drivers will loose job they transfer over to new co. they supply busses or we can rent them our busses and rent our bus garage to them . and pay and benefits are payed by them.
Mike Wright September 20, 2011 at 11:19 PM
What are you talking about? The BOE gets $85/meeting and I have researched this they do not have a Cadillac plan and most do not go through the school system for health insurance. Where do you get this stuff?
Tom September 21, 2011 at 12:29 PM
Amanda Brewer, you have made some great comments about this levy and how it will impact you as a student. I applaud you for your courage to speak up, your insight and your wisdom on this matter. Closing schools early will impact many areas not just the sports and student activities. You as a student deserve the best. Again thank you for your post.
Tom September 21, 2011 at 12:39 PM
Amanda Brewer, again I am so encouraged by your comments and hope others will be as well. Yes, we need checks and balances, but we certainly need our AP programs and what others have called "non-essential" programs. Drama, Band, Sports or any other school activity a student chooses to particiapte in is essential to me, just as essential as Math and Science.
Misty Pawlin September 21, 2011 at 10:37 PM
@ Mike what kind of co-pays do they pay for prescription drugs, etc. since you seem to know so much about the plan? I still say, the plan they've got is too expensive and it needs to be down-graded, along with a far larger employee contribution being required to get into the plan. The schools have a $55 million budget. How they cannot get along on this amount of money is beyond me. Hasn't anyone figured out that no matter how much money the schools get, it will never ever be enough until fiscal responsibility is forced upon them by the taxpayers - since the school board and administration can't seem to reign in the spending in a significant way themselves.
Chelsea Simpson September 22, 2011 at 10:14 PM
@Misty Pawlin I am a freshman at Wilmington College. I graduated from Stow High School with honors and was involved in numerous extracurricular activities within the school. Offering the Honors and AP courses, sport, and clubs, gave me a jump start on college. I was invited to a special leadership retreat before school even started. There are only twelve people from each class that gets to attend. I am also one of twenty four people on a leadership board on campus and am the only freshman in it. I would like to say Stow gave me that opportunity because of how well they prepared me. Without these programs, I would have ended up going to Akron University and would not being involved on campus. Taking away extracurricular activity and advanced classes will not prepare the high schoolers for future. Therefore, cutting those costs would not be beneficial.
John Moyer September 22, 2011 at 10:54 PM
Jeanne- I assume that you feel that the "higher ups" either make too much money or there are too many. How much is too much money? And how many are too many? Honest analysis is needed here; not just whimsical statements. Here is a site that you and others might find helpful to compare districts in Summit County: http://ode.legislature.state.oh.us/chart.php This takes a bit of work to study, but leads to decisions based on facts, not emotional statements, rumors or personal bias.
Mike Wright September 22, 2011 at 11:08 PM
Misty why don't you do your homework and find out. I guess you are not getting my point. You don't even have a clue about their program.
Jake Racketch September 24, 2011 at 12:51 AM
Being stuck on something like the budget total is meaningless without accompanying facts. The SMFCSD operates on a rather small budget, considering its size. You may not like to think so, but it is a fact in terms of comparison. The administrative cost per pupil is 2nd lowest of the 14 public Summit county districts. (Administrative salary total divided by enrollment) The instructional cost per pupil is 4th lowest. (Teacher and aides salary total divided by enrollment) The total cost per pupil is 4th lowest. (Total salaries divided by enrollment)
Jake Racketch September 24, 2011 at 01:01 AM
Since when did Stow have a below-average Science and Math department and/or course offerings? I'm sure Amanda Brewer has NOT thought about all the people who have lost their jobs, benefits, and homes because she is a STUDENT and therefore a CHILD. Acting as if she is supposed to be cognizant of these things is fair but asking her to feel differently about wanting to continue benefiting from the programs offered at her high school is asinine and offensive. Somehow the focus on many of these message boards has become so poisonous that we have lost sight of the very thing that which students like Amanda remind us--that we, regardless of our struggles, must find a way to continue to support the CHILDREN of OUR community.
Jake Racketch September 24, 2011 at 01:06 AM
Enough with your mindless barking about a $55 million budget! Start itemizing it if you have a problem with its contents. Otherwise, take the time (provided below) to realize that SMFCSD's budget is far from exorbitant The SMFCSD operates on a rather small budget, considering its size. You may not like to think so, but it is a fact in terms of comparison. The administrative cost per pupil is 2nd lowest of the 14 public Summit county districts. (Administrative salary total divided by enrollment) The instructional cost per pupil is 4th lowest. (Teacher and aides salary total divided by enrollment) The total cost per pupil is 4th lowest. (Total salaries divided by enrollment)
Ed Kent September 26, 2011 at 05:11 PM
As a child growing up in public school, I felt the financial burden that my parents carried even though they tried to hide it from me. When you see your family struggle to pay their rising property taxes so they can stay in their home you begin at a very young age to see how tax dollars are wasted. I'd look around at school, see school buildings open later for extracurricular activities, teachers driving expensive sports cars and think to myself, "and they say they need more money and yet my parents are struggling?" I learned as a child that the brainwashing of "if you don't pass another levy your child will suffer" for the most part was hogwash. Yes, we must provide a 'free' education, but there are limits to what present taxpayers (particularly homeowners) can provide and any cost involving extras above state education mandates must be up to parents and fundraisers until that time the private sector job incomes increase, social security benefits increase for seniors trying to remain homeowners and maybe a new way to fund schools. Homeowners have been hit very hard and many just don't have even $25 to $45 per month, but in fact are just trying to stay above water. Many good parents I know have been willing to pay for their child's extracurricular activities and many realize we just can't afford to keep all the buildings open. Many expect cuts and know it won't be easy, but it's necessary at this time.
Rob Baker September 28, 2011 at 02:14 PM
Most of the parents that we have spoken with understand the financial pressure our schools are feeling from the economy and the large cuts in state funding. Almost all are parents and grandparents who are very active in our schools via PTA, sports, band, plays, etc and see not only the educational value, but the role our schools play in the fabric and vitality of our community. Yes most are feeling the effects of the economy, some not, but all seem to feel its important enough to take on the extra 7 dollars a week for the levy or are willing to make cuts themselves of a dollar a day in order to maintain our city's most important asset.
lissa bailey September 28, 2011 at 03:55 PM
This is the key sentence from Rob I feel is true as well, "or are willing to make cuts themselves..." which to most of the parents I know means directly supplying what our children want in terms of transportation, sports, band, field trips and any other items that fall outside the mandated necessary 'free' education all citizens are to provide (although in Ohio most of that burden falls to homeowners and not broadly to all users of the system, but that's another matter). Yes, most of them I've spoke with feel raising property taxes for this is a 'no go' and most are making plans to deal with the cuts that must come. We are working on ways to get our kids to school if all busing is cut and kids are talking about ways to raise money so they can participate in extracurricluar activities that they know homeowners shouldn't have to pay for. I admire the kids I'm hearing discuss these things instead of complaining that the fees will go up. We should not underestimate our kids' knowledge of budgeting and what it means to live within the means of the citizens. Those I know who do have enough money for the added property tax of 11% if the levy passes (which for some is a lot more that $7 a week) are more than willing to help donate what they would have spent in increased taxes if the levy fails. They are planning on helping kids directly for supplies and even pay-to-play sports fees. This community is great.
Ward Benson September 30, 2011 at 05:52 PM
Yet another reason we should be very careful about raising taxes at this time is the impending rising cost associated with the new healthcare law. An independent consultant, Milliman, Inc., reviewed the requirements and mandates of Obamacare to determine its impact for Ohioans. They spent several months researching Ohio’s insurance market and laws to assess what our state will look like in 2014 and beyond. The bottom line – health insurance premiums for individuals in Ohio will increase anywhere from 55 to 85 percent on average (not including current medical trends that are averaging 7 to 8 percent nationwide). Moreover, some Ohioans – depending on their current health status – may see their premiums increase by as much as 90 to 130 percent. These historic spikes in cost will hurt consumers at a time when health insurance is already going up
lissa bailey September 30, 2011 at 07:03 PM
I agree that rising healthcare cost is one of my family's biggest challenges to face and the outlook is very grim. I'm happy for the teachers who've only had to agree to a small percentage increase in what they will pay into their healthcare premiums. Every school employee's healthcare cost will increase from 5 percent to 10 percent this school year and increase to 15 percent during the 2012-13 school year. Single coverage now is $31.61 a month and family coverage it is currently $76.93 a month. That's certainly a far cry less from what most of us citizens must pay. I'll eventually have to drop coverage altogether they way things are headed. I certainly can't justify a property tax increase of 11% through this levy when I can't even afford healthcare for my own kids.
Mike Barnes October 13, 2011 at 02:40 PM
On behalf of the SMF School Levy Committee I would like to invite all interested parties to attend tonight’s Issue 20 Informational meeting -- 6:30 to 8:00 PM at the Oregon Trail Sports Center across from Woodland Elementary School on Graham Rd. Administration and school board members will be available to provide information regarding the need for additional funding through voter support for Issue 20 on November 8th.
Ed Kent October 17, 2011 at 05:00 PM
Many good parents have stated their willingness to accept higher fees for their child to play in order to keep from putting more burden on their neighbors, relatives and friends in Stow and Munroe Falls who are already hurting from job loss, income loss, higher living expenses and much higher health insurance premiums compared to school staff. And, many wisely have calculated the extra fees they would pay for pay-to-PLAY sports if the levy fails as being less than the extra 11% they would pay in property taxes if the levy would pass and while helping the rest of the community by not further diminishing the appeal Stow has for potential homebuyers looking for towns with lower property taxes. Only 30% of homebuyers have children in public schools. Yes, we will keep our schools excellent as we've done without new money for years. In fact, as reported by the treasurer the deficit figures in 2014 only occur if the levy renewals coming up soon don't pass. A 6.57-mill 10-year levy would generate $65 million for the district and would cost the owner of $200,000 home (just over the average value in Stow, but home values are declining): $4024.20 levy duration $402.42 annually $201.21 for half a year (increase due beginning THIS February) $33.54 a month $1.10 per a day The owner of a $250,000 home will pay an increase of: $5030.20 levy duration $503.20 annually $251.51 for half a year (increase due beginning THIS February) $41.91 a month $1.40 per a day
Ed Kent October 17, 2011 at 05:02 PM
With only $400,000 to $500,000 in projected cuts needed and the renewals passing (renewals always pass in Stow/Munroe Falls) in order to keep in budget, this new $65,000,000 property tax levy over 10 years is about raises. While it's understandable that everyone wants raises (even those 130 teachers and administrators making over $65,000 per 185 work days + benefits + pension), many of the rest of the citizens have endured actual income loss, job loss and some have lost or about to lose their home. It is therefore reasonable to expect higher fees to PLAY. And, many parents realize their responsibility in bringing children into this world and don't expect other homeowners to pay for everything their child wants. Fundraising helped us get the nice new playfield for games at the high school. These things are niceties as well as with field trips. It would be unreasonable to expect many struggling homeowners to pay even higher taxes so field trips could remain free. I applaud those who donated and those parents who paid out of pocket for their band member child to go to Disney World. Many pro-levy voters who feel they have the extra $30/month have decided they will donate that money to kids they know who want to play sports, if the levy fails, or even help with field trips, because they know many homeowners are really hurting right now.
lissa bailey October 17, 2011 at 05:20 PM
Ed, you're right! I just calculated the increased pay-to-play fee and what I'd pay in increased property tax beginning with my February bill (which I don't even have the extra money for in my budget) and I'll take the increased pay-to-play fees. Plus, many students are discussing fundraisers to offset the fee increase for parents who don't have the money yet their child wants to play (I'm one of those). I'm the type of parent who feels like education comes first and if there's money for extra-curricular things then fine. But, I agree that this is the worst time to ask property owners for money for sports and field trips. Come on. Familes are really suffering and I just had another friend admit to me they've been in the foreclosure process a while due to income cuts and I didn't realize for this past year what they were going through. We've got to put the WHOLE community ahead of our wants such as sports and games. I think extra curricular things are important and I'd rather find ways to fundraise for those things than to place it on the back of others during this recession. I know the media says it's over, but I haven't seen the recovery results myself.
Ward Benson October 17, 2011 at 06:31 PM
I never thought of the fact that it is less expensive for parents to pay the increased pay to participate fees than to pay the increased taxes if the new levy passes on Nov. 8. Very informative and my big DUH moment of the week! Yet, another reason not to place more expenses on homeowners than they already endure.

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