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Issue 2 Fails, School District to Seek Levy in November

Issue 2 failed in Stow Aug. 2, according to final but unofficial results from the Summit County Board of Elections.

After finding out failed by about 1,400 votes Aug. 2, District Treasurer/CFO Catherine Bulgrin said she was "disheartened" by the results, but the district plans to seek a levy in November.

"Obviously, we're disappointed. We have done all that we believe we could have done in terms of making [$7.2 million in]  over the ," said Superintendent Russ Jones.

School employees, in recent contracts as well, which is expected to save the . A contract with the by the .

According to the final, but unofficial, results from the Summit County Board of Elections, 4,039 (60.65 percent) voted against the levy and 2,621 (39.35 percent) voted for the levy.

"This does not solve our financial situation," said Jones.

If the levy had passed, it would have cost the owner of a $100,000 home $202.21 annually. The 6.57-mill, 10 year levy would have generated $6.5 million annually.

"According to the May forecast, we're just squeaking by in 2013 with a $25,000 projected balance without passage [of this levy]," said Bulgrin.

Bulgrin added that the board will consider taking the first of two steps toward placing the same levy on the November ballot during a special board meeting Thursday. The board will need to meet Aug. 8 to approve moving forward with the levy, she said.

"We have maintained, from the beginning, a positive approach to this and made reductions necessary along the way," said Jones. "Now we'll take the necessary steps to keep the district solvent and so it remains 'Excellent.'"

Board Vice President Karen Powers said despite the outcome of the levy, "We will continue to provide best education possible for every single student who walks through our doors with the resources that are available."

Bulgrin, Jones and Powers thanked the community and Levy Steering Committee leader Steve Fry, for the support received from 40 percent of the voters.

"I am disheartened that the voters did not support the very fabric of our community," Bulgrin said.

James Thomas August 03, 2011 at 03:45 AM
The Voters Have Decisively Spoken. NO NEW LEVY IN NOVEMBER! Deal with the fiscal reality of now or Fire Jones. Fire Bulgrin. Recall Matthews. Recall Powers. Can the voters of Stow make their priorities any clearer?
YOUR BEST FRIEND August 03, 2011 at 04:51 AM
well said james , they just need a new board members.
James Pistorio August 03, 2011 at 12:09 PM
Who did the math for this article? Unofficially, the levy failed by 1,418 votes. 1,418 is closer to 1400 than it is 1600 unless you're using Investigative Math in which case any four digit number is a valid response.
Susan Ruiz Patton August 03, 2011 at 12:46 PM
Thanks for point that out, James.
Ed Kent August 03, 2011 at 03:41 PM
Failing by 20% is certainly not small, but if more residents would have known about the levy things would have looked even worse for the schools. They were wise in not putting out school levy support signs because that is what many people look for and it reminds them about a vote coming up. I heard many people when it was too late for them to vote who said they would have also voted no if they had known about it. I think this has caused many to be more wary and will cause them to check online media sites like Stow Patch so they can better keep up with the issues. Stow Patch is a much better place for local information than the local TV news stations. They had nothing about Stow's issue. Of course, most of them are in Cleveland.
James Pistorio August 03, 2011 at 04:05 PM
"Failing by 20%..." Very well said. Many people would have incorrectly stated that it failed by 40%.
Becky Slam August 03, 2011 at 06:32 PM
The Stow Patch gave more accurate results than the Beacon!
Ward Benson August 03, 2011 at 07:15 PM
The Beacon actually first reported that the levy passed, then later corrected it. Amazing! They also reported that the levy in Nordonia had passed, then later corrected it. I won't buy the Beacon, although I occassionally look at their online site. They have some good people working there so its a shame they have people like Bob Dyer. He kinda turns off a lot of people from reading the paper. I won't buy another Beacon paper until they get rid of his column.
lincoln adams September 15, 2011 at 04:15 PM
So let me get this right, the people of Stow can't afford * $201.21 annually * $100.60 for half a year * $16.77 a month * 55 cents a day I can't believe how ridiculously cheap and short-sighted the voters in Stow are. I make half what the average household income in Stow is and I would've voted yes if I were a Stow resident. FYI people move into districts that have good schools. You are staring at the future new property sales of your community further stagnating. Good job Stow. I love it when old rich people, play the broke card.
Ed Kent September 15, 2011 at 05:22 PM
A 6.57-mill 10-year levy would generate $65 million for the district and would cost the owner of $200,000 home (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 Also, don't forget that the 7.61 mill levy passed in November 2007 will expire in 2012, so you'll also see that on the ballot next year.
Ed Kent September 15, 2011 at 05:26 PM
Actually, there are only 30% of potential homebuyers who have children in public school. The vast majority are seeking areas (not just in Northeast Ohio) that have citizens who, while properly supporting most levies, do not pass levies every year. One of the top questions people ask when looking for a home is how high are the property taxes and how often does the district pressure to get new levies passed and how often to they seek for renewals on levies that were just 'emergency' 5 year levies? Stow voters are notorious for passing school levies about one every other year for the past 30 years. Yes, this proves citizens aren't 'cheap' as the non-resident above has stated. There's nothing stopping a supporter of higher taxes from donating the money they would have paid if the levy passed, directly to the district.
Stow Resident September 15, 2011 at 05:40 PM
It amazes me when other people call those who don't agree with them "cheap". You have no idea the struggles that a good majority of Stow residents are going through right now financially. For a house worth $150,000 an extra $25.16/month may not seem like a lot of money to some people but for a good deal of people it is. Add into that the knowledge that this won’t be the only levy upcoming in the next few years and you’ve got a tough hill to climb to pass this thing. Plus the residents just voted this thing down a month ago.
Stow Resident September 15, 2011 at 08:00 PM
Well said Misty.
Misty Pawlin September 15, 2011 at 08:08 PM
And Ed, let's not forget there is a county levy on the ballot that will also raise our property taxes if it's passed in November. This "cheap" Stow resident got physically ill when I saw the erroneous headlines in the Beacon Journal that the levy had passed. I was barely able to scrape up the money to pay my July taxes. I was tremendously relieved to find out the levy had failed, but I knew it was only a matter of time before they put it back on the ballot. I am in need of property tax relief, not more taxes or the same taxes. I need lower taxes, as do many others. More foreclosures are only going to continue to cause Stow property values to plummet.
Misty Pawlin September 15, 2011 at 08:12 PM
How dare you come here and call the people of Stow "ridiculously cheap and shortsighted" for voting down a levy we can't afford, or don't want to pay for. We've funded the schools to the tune of $55 MILLION, but with our spend thrift school board, that huge amount of money is not enough. If you make half the medium Stow income, at least you still have a job, and if you want to contribute to Russ Jones and Catherine Belgrin's six figure salaries, be my guest. A fool and his money are soon parted. With or without the levy, property values crashed anyway. How about them apples? I love it when people presume to tell other people how much money they can afford to spend, and what they should spend it on. Colossal gall!
lincoln adams September 15, 2011 at 11:49 PM
I dare because my child goes to Stow. It appears that this levy was to stand for ten years. So you would not, in fact, be voting for another levy next year or the year after that. And I'm sorry, If you can afford a 150-200k house, then yes you can afford $25 extra a month. People spend money on what's important. Do most of these houses have cable or satellite dishes? How many of these households shop at Giant Eagle. I'm fairly certain that most ( not all ), budgets could be reconfigured to accommodate this change. It's clearly a matter of what's important to people. And it's obvious that maintaining the high level of education that our children and grandchildren receive is not all that high a priority. I could understand if residents were concerned about ponying up more dollars because the school district is foolishly squandering its current funds. But Stow has received an excellent rating from the state. The School district is managing these dollars well, I'd say. Driving through every part of Akron other than the Firestone area will tell you how poor use of funds, lack of community support and weak teachers destroys a school, as well as nullifies the effectiveness of a generations of students and in the end cripples a community. I'm sorry, I don't mean to sound like a soapbox interloper. Everyone's financial situation is different, but we should fight a little harder for the excellent education our children have the privilege of receiving.
Stow Resident September 16, 2011 at 02:28 PM
Lincoln, if you don't live in Stow will you be paying for this levy if it passes?
lincoln adams September 16, 2011 at 02:50 PM
Actually, I'm paying a lot of extra gas $$$ to drive and drop my child off certainly more than $25 a month goes directly to gas to transport or daughter to Stow, and like everyone else, I pay to play any extra-curriculars. If the good residents of Stow who can afford a levy are fine with the decline of their kids education, by all means vote it down. In truth, we are very grateful that we can open enroll at Stow. And surprised that there is any room there. It's an excellent school. You should be proud of the school and your children. Here's hoping it will stay that way. If the majority of Stow residents are broke, house poor or out of work then I am clearly mistaken in my opinion. Soon we'll be in Woodridge school district, and if a levy goes up, we'll probably vote for it. And our daughter will still be in Stow...
Karen Gonidakis September 16, 2011 at 03:58 PM
Oh Mr. Lincoln Adams: You've got me started. Many of us in Stow DO NOT own a $150-$200K home. And many of us DO NOT shop at Giant Eagle (unless it's a really good sale). I live in a $108K home with 3 of my 4 boys still home, we shop at Aldi and Marcs to save money. We wear sweatshirts in the house during the winter so we can keep the thermostat down, and I have many friends/neighbors that are in the same situation. I do also have friends in higher priced homes that were there before the economy slip, and they're trying everything they can to hold onto to what is theirs. I've had friends lose houses because of the economy issue. I just had another friend lose her job this week. These also are the very people who take their time to go into the schools and volunteer and help the teachers and the students on a regular basis and are asked to do fundraisers for many things that are taken care of in the school budget. These are wonderful people with good values and kind hearts. HOW DARE YOU!!!!! You do not live in Stow. You do not pay taxes here. Do you attend BOE meetings and ask for information from the schools regarding finances? Probably not! I have and many of these people have, and we are trying to figure out a way to keep the Stow schools, which you obviously regard well since you send your kids here, in good financial order while being frugal. So sit down and shut up! You want to say more about Stow, move here and experience it, then I'll listen to you!
Karen Gonidakis September 16, 2011 at 03:59 PM
And by the way - we do have a levy renewal up for re-election in 2012.
lincoln adams September 16, 2011 at 04:17 PM
As I said before....if the majority, 51%, of the Stow Munroe population is at or below the poverty line for whatever reason...then yes it's a problem and a levy shouldn't be passed. Is this the case? If it is I stand corrected, and gladly will give a mea culpa. At the end of the day. Nothing is more important than the safety and education of our children. And I hope that in keeping the district fiscally responsible (a good thing), we keep ourselves fiscally responsibility.
lincoln adams September 16, 2011 at 06:49 PM
Fair point! Clearly, there are areas that need to be investigated about how the administration spends the money towards administrative compensation. And this is certainly a good reason to demand that the funds raised in a levy go to where they are most needed as it relates to our children. It's a tough pill to swallow to have to fund the retirement of administrators when most people have taken severe cuts to their own retirements. In this sense, voters would not be being "cheap or short-sighted" they would be being prudent. My sincerest apologies to those I may have offended with my opinions in this matter.
lincoln adams September 16, 2011 at 07:40 PM
Jeanne, I would hope those cuts would be implemented for the next school year rather than this one. Though I could certainly see the board skewing that information to coerce a voters into passing a levy in November... On a side note, I'm a working artist ( please, don't make assumptions about my political leanings—they may not be what you think!) and would be more than willing to help students if cuts come down that effect visual arts studies.
lincoln adams September 16, 2011 at 08:03 PM
I didn't mean you Jeanne or anyone else in particular, but I've learned over the years that once you say "I'm a working artist" many people begin start thinking a lot of things that are unfortunately stereotypical. And mostly untrue ;-) There are a lot of great parents at Stow High School— the Stow Swimming parents group for example is excellent! If anything, the main difference between a district like Stow Munroe and Akron city is that there are, by far, more parents able to step in and be a stop gap when the budget fails the students... Quite a bit of socio-economic reasons behind that to be sure. But nothing can replace involved, caring parents in the life of a child! Kudos to you for being a volunteer!

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