and Kristine Gill
Voters approved renewal levies for Mahoning County school districts, but levies for two districts seeking additional funds failed.
A 3.9-mill, five-year additional emergency operating levy for Poland schools failed that would have generated $1,485,900 annually.
“In these economic times, we’ll keep curtailing cost. It’s obvious that it’s going to be tough,” said Superintendent Robert Zorn.
School Board President David Bennett said the board will address cost-cutting measures at its next meeting.
“There’s no direction we’re definitely going to go,” he said. “A lot of it is pending on what state and federal funds are next year.”
Zorn said the economy was the reason for the levy’s defeat and he was “puzzled” as to what the school district could have done differently.
“We are an Excellent [ranked] district, have a federal Blue Ribbon school and haven’t had a new levy in seven years,” he said.
An additional 6.8-mill school levy failed in Canfield would have brought in $3.8 million annually.
Canfield Schools Superintendent Dante Zambrini didn’t have much to say about the results. “It is what it is,” Zambrini said, adding that the school board will now begin to discuss cuts the district will ultimately have to make to stay afloat. In a press release, Zambrini thanked those 3,653 residents who voted in favor of the levy and acknowledged that tough economic times likely factored into residents’ decisions to vote against the levy. “We understand that,” Zambrini said. “Just as you had to make cuts, we now have to make cuts, too.” Zambrini said the board will decide whether the district will propose a levy for the 2011 ballot.
However, districts asking for renewals were given voter approval.
Austintown Schools Superintendent Vince Colaluca was pleased by the passage of two renewal levies for the district. “It’s just a relief for the district,” he said. “I think it goes back to the good work of the teachers ... and having faith in our board. They’ve been good stewards of the dollar.” Colaluca said while the renewals aren’t new money, the funds will help the district to maintain its new excellent rating. “We were proactive in getting information out and we won the absentees,” Colaluca said. “The last four elections, we’ve not been ahead in absentees.” The 4.9-mill and 7.3-mill operating levies passed with similar margins of a little more than 2,500 votes.
In Boardman, three school levies passed: five-year, 6-mill renewal; a five-year, 5.9-mill renewal; and a three-year, 1.6-mill renewal.