Youngstown needs its levy

Youngstown needs its levy

We are recommending that Youngstown City School District voters approve a 9.5-mill levy that will appear on the March 4 ballot. We believe that the district needs additional revenue to do its job, which is to educate the city’s next generation.

But the failure of the administration to submit to the board of education a formal response to a recent performance audit in which the state auditor’s recommended massive manpower cuts makes it difficult to endorse the levy with any real enthusiasm.

As late as Thursday, Superintendent Wendy Webb and school board President Shelley Murray were talking about having something to present to the voters before the election. We believe both are sincere in their desire to run an efficient district, one that the voters are inclined to support. And we don’t doubt that putting together a comprehensive plan is a complicated process, as Dr. Webb says. But time is obviously running out. The election is only nine days away.

Voters hold the key

At this point, we can only hope that the district can present a plan that will inspire a majority of the city’s voters to give the school district their support.

The district has trimmed $19 million in annual spending over the last two year, which is certainly no mean feat. Yet the district remains in fiscal emergency. It is obvious that whether the levy passes or fails, the state-appointed fiscal oversight commission is going to have to step in, perhaps with more drastic measures than the board has been willing or is even able to pursue. One such measure would be reopening contracts with the district unions to allow further staff cuts.

But even the oversight commission has said that it is impossible for the district to cut its way out of its fiscal deficit. On that basis, we recommend a yes vote on Youngstown’s levy on next Tuesday’s ballot.

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