It's a light primary ballot, overall, but critically important to some school districts in Summit County.
In Barberton, voters are deciding an 8.45 mill, 5-year operating levy. Superintendent Patti Cleary says
"These dollars would just replace the lost revenue we've had over the past four to five years," said Cleary. "This will maintain the programming and the teachers that we have right now. We would not be adding more."
Cleary says Barberton is in a predicament similar to many other schools: Property values have dropped along with state funding and expenses have gone up, forcing cuts that are now edging too close to having a serious impact on education.
Coventry Superintendent Rusty Chaboudy is asking voters for a third time to provide the necessary local funding to build a new high school and renovate two existing buildings. He says the combined bond issue and permanent improvement levy totaling 5.99 mills, will actually result in an operating cost savings.
"We're going to go from four buildings to three and we're going to be able to be much more energy efficient and transportation costs would be improved because we're putting all of our buildings within a half-mile radius of one another," said Chaboudy.
As part of the levy effort, Chaboudy is trying to downplay the claims of some opponents, who are focusing on open enrollment, suggesting that the district shouldn't take in so many students from other districts, then ask district residents to cough up more money to pay for the schools. Chaboudy says Coventry is one of 77% of Ohio school districts that accept students through open enrollment. State funding associated with each student follows that student, but state funding makes up only part of a student's fiscal profile. Still, Chaboudy says the district is doing the right thing.
"For every open enrollment student, it drives down the amount of money that they are paying for the resident student and that's the point we're trying to get out to people," said Chaboudy.
Voters in Cuyahoga Falls are voting on a 3-mill permanent improvement levy and the Mogadore district is looking for passage of a 5.9-mill operating levy.
Update: Superintendent Patti Cleary said in an email that the unnamed student described as being hospitalized following an attempted suicide was actually one of the protestors. Cleary said she has no knowledge of an attempted suicide.
The information above was added to the story at 4:15 p.m.
About a dozen Barberton High School students, along with a couple of parents, staged a protest outside the school this morning to urge the administration to take a tougher stand against bullying.
"I know it's a widespread issue," said a woman who didn't want to be identifed. "Everybody is afraid to step up. Somebody has to step up."
That woman was involved because she says bullying drove her daughter to an attempted suicide. The teen is currently hospitalized.
Other students, including Kristen Grimm, a junior, say they are tired of being the target of bullies.
"They've called me fat. That've called me anorexic. I get stuff thrown at me and the school hasn't done a thing."
Grimm says she reported the incidents.
"We never discount any claim of bullying and we investigate and do whatever we can to stop it," said Superintendent Patti Cleary.
Cleary says it's not legal for her to discuss infractions, investigations or sanctions as they relate to individual students. She says, however, that people sometimes misinterpret the silence for inaction. Cleary says there's a particular case this week that is still being investigated.
"We've been doing this all week with them and we'll continue to make sure that people are satisfied that we're trying to keep all the kids safe," said Cleary.
Cleary says administrators were flexible early this morning with the protestors in relation to their required arrival time. She says it's okay to express an opinion, but that doesn't excuse students from class.
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