By Elise Franco
For the first time in eight years, the Canfield Local School District will need approval of an operating levy to stay out of deficit, school leaders say.
Superintendent Dante Zambrini said the levy will be 6.8 mills, though he won’t know how much it would raise until it’s certified by the county auditor’s office.
Zambrini said the levy proposal will appear on the school-board meeting agenda for the second time Wednesday. It must be presented to the board twice before members can vote to place it on the Nov. 2 ballot.
“The purpose is to avoid deficit spending,” he said. “We have to be proactive. The last operating levy was passed in 2002, and we’ve been able to be frugal and plan around just the money we’ve received.”
Zambrini said he believes most operating levies last from three to five years, but their most recent one was stretched out for eight years.
“We understand the difficulty for residents,” he said. “At the same time we have to be prudent knowing not to go into that spiral downfall of deficit spending because it grows exponentially.”
Anthony Peluso, board president, said the district’s need for new funding is due in part to unfunded state mandates that all school districts must adhere to.
Peluso said he thinks residents will support the levy because they understand the district has done everything it can to stretch the dollar.
“We’ve gone longer with this current levy,” he said. “That says something for our district. We try to watch our dollars and put them to the best use possible.”
Zambrini said residents should find out by August how much the levy will cost and how much their taxes would go up if it’s approved.
“Knowing that the residents have pride in their community and schools, I believe they will find out that the amount is reasonable,” he said. “Strong schools do create strong communities.”
The superintendent said residents understand how important good schools with quality programs are.
“That is their legacy, and each generation has added to the value of the schools,” he said. “They value education, and they support the schools.”
He said the administration will look at putting the levy back on in May if necessary.
“If the money doesn’t come in, we will see how much the deficit grows,” he said. “The school board doesn’t wish to put a levy on, but we are forced to because legislators refuse to raise the money.”
Peluso said though no plan is in place at this time, programs could be cut if the money isn’t raised.
“We’ll have to look at taking some programs out. I’m not saying that’s going to happen, but we have to think about it,” he said. “Students thrive on the extracurriculars, athletics, arts — programs offered here that aren’t offered at other schools.”