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Crestwood, Waterloo school levies defeated

Waterloo to seek levy again in November, Crestwood likely

By BRIANA BARKER Reporter Published: August 9, 2017 4:00 AM
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After a contentious campaign, Crestwood Schools will not be getting a new school, yet, and Waterloo Local Schools was denied funding for course offerings.

Issue one, a bond issue, failed with 2,347 votes against the levy and 1,750 for the levy, according to final but unofficial results from the Portage County Board of Elections.

Superintendent Dave Toth said the next move is up to the school board.

An emergency meeting of the school board will be held today at 7:45 a.m. to discuss placing the measure back on the November ballot.

The board has already voted once to send the measure to the fiscal office. This morning's vote will be to decide whether to place it on the ballot. The deadline is 4 p.m. that same day to have the decision to the board of elections.

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The 4.45-mill bond issue coupled with a 0.5-mill permanent improvement levy would have funded the building of a new school for grades seven through 12. The new school was to be built in front of the current high school on Main Street in Mantua, and that building would be torn down. The middle school would be repurposed, possibly as a community building.

The same issue failed by 19 votes in May.

The measure would have cost homeowners in the district approximately $173 annually per $100,000 of residential property value through 2021. In 2022, the cost would have dropped to about $88 per $100,000 annually due to the elementary buildings being paid off, according to the district treasurer.

Toth said the middle school has roof issues and needs new windows, a new facade, air conditioning and updates to electrical wiring. He said the new building is needed.

"It would be a great opportunity for the kids in the community to move forward into the future," Toth said. "The community votes and you have to honor the vote."

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The issue became contentious as fliers were put out, Facebook sites both for and against the levy popped up and some area businesses even received letters threatening boycotts. Opposers cited concerns of future levies both from the school district and outside levies, as well as a lack of site plans in place for a new building.

School Board President Todd Monroe previously told the Record-Courier that the board would not be fiscally responsible if it didn't seek funding before pursuing architectural plans, which cost money.

School Board members could not be reached immediately for comment.

Meanwhile, a Waterloo Local Schools 8.25-mill additional operating levy failed 1,279 votes against the levy and 420 for, according to the final but unofficial results.

The levy would have cost residential homeowners $288 annually per $100,000 of valuation. The funds would allow the district to maintain current programming and student course offerings.

Superintendent Shawn Braman said he is disappointed but the district will keep working to inform the public what is needed.

"This is something our kids need," he said. "It is a sacrifice for the people of the community and we are going to keep fighting for it. We believe it's the right thing to do for our students and our district."

Only two levies have been approved in the district since 1974, according to Braman.

According to the latest 2017 financial forecast on the Ohio Department of Education's website, the district was in negative spending in 2015 and 2016.

The district is forecast to have a negative cash balance of $1.8 million in 2020 if a solution is not found. The prior forecast showed a negative cash balance in 2018 but the district laid off nine teachers in May that appears to have given the district enough funding to get through another year.

The School Board voted in July to place the levy on the Nov. 7 ballot, but the district also has a 5.9-mill renewal levy on the horizon, said School Board Vice President Kenneth Fletcher.

Fletcher said while he appreciates the support the district does receive, he wishes more residents would vote.

"It's demoralizing," Fletcher said. "We do appreciate as much support as we get but I wish we'd see more support at the polls."

He said the district has been operating on a shoestring budget for many years and the district has been conscientious with the funds, but the low funding has affected staffing beyond the May layoffs.

"We have had people who really want to work for Waterloo, but there is absolutely no job security," Fletcher said. "We have to prioritize the curriculum. We are really hoping the community will see that we are still not asking for more, we just want to maintain.

"We are just going to keep trying," he said. "We want to do the best we can with what's available."

Braman added, "We have to fight for our students -- they are worth the fight."

Briana Barker: 330-541-9432


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SMH Aug 9, 2017 11:44 AM

There is a much bigger picture than just a "new school". Those who voted against it I believe are misinformed. So much has changed in education and renovating a building to keep up with how the world is progressing is way more costly than building new. Maintenance is one thing, but 'old' schools are not designed nor equiped for today's learning environment. This is not the only district that has requested funding for a new school, yet it is one of only a couple that didn't have the levy pass. The State of Ohio has issued the 2016 report card for this district and sadly it received "D's" and "F's". And now voters won't pass a needed levy to help bring this community where it needs to be. What a shame. What an embarrasement to the school board, the residents, thekids who have no where else to go because there are no open enrollmentdistricts nearby and private schooling is overpriced. Crestwood community you are a mess.

redleg6 Aug 9, 2017 9:52 AM

From above..Toth said the middle school has roof issues and needs new windows, a new facade, air conditioning and updates to electrical wiring....

Q.Who was the one that decided NOT to MAINTAIN the school buildings....?????

What happened to the schools maintenance money from levies past..????..

Jennifer88 Aug 9, 2017 6:30 AM

The people have spoken and we are against the wasteful corruption of the crestwood school district and their desperate attempt at gerrymandering to leech from taxpayers.

"If we sell the buildings and consolidate our primary schools into one complex we will save millions"

Yet they still haven't paid it off and they sold the old properties and buildings for nearly nothingand yet they have the nerve to manipulate people by trying to hide behind our children and use them to campaign at polling places and use them to push forward tax increases. I attendedMantua Center school when I was young and the building was nearly 100 years old, I had no problem with the school and never felt it was outdated. Proper maintenance, good teachers, ciriculum and weeding out incompetent district beauracracy should be the priority, not raising taxes to build more schools when the last one isn't even paid off yet.

You don't buy a new car when the old one needs an oil change or tire change. You maintain it and save the money for real emergencies.

Keep trying to force through this tax increase because everytime you push it forward the resistance grows stronger.

I will not get lazy and miss a vote. With each passing election I will spread the word to more people to vote against it until an honest and competant district management and school board are elected to learn fiscal responsibility and to respect the hard earned money given to them by the taxpayers. I will also encourage private schooling to the families that can afford to do so because I would not trust this district with my children.

See you in november, I'll be ready. :)