Canfield levies raise questions

Canfield levies raise questions

Currently, the Canfield Local School District levies, which will appear on the May 3 ballot, are an issue of great concern to our school districts’ taxpayers, and rightfully so.

There is no question that the quality of education as provided by Canfield schools is better than almost anywhere else in the State of Ohio. However, after attending the recent town hall meetings on this topic, there appear to be two major areas of concern to our taxpayers when it comes to deciding whether or not to vote for or against these levies, a 1.6-mill renewal and an additional 6.8 mills.

Concern No. 1: How will a Canfield resident, living in a house worth approximately $150,000 or more, come up with an additional $300 to $400, or possibly more, to pay the increase in taxes each year when the current economy has already made providing for his or her family more and more difficult?

Concern No. 2: If the levies fail, what will happen to the quality of education in Canfield?

Both of these concerns have prompted the administration of the school district to develop a plan to inform the taxpayers as to why the additional funds are needed.

Town hall meetings have been held, but have these meetings provided all the answers or have they created more questions? For example, why does the school district need an additional $3.8 million (6.8- mill) levy? This amount, together with $1.2 million of reduced costs from the permanent layoff of teachers and other employees in the school district (Phase One Reductions) totals $5 million of additional available funds. From what the taxpayers have been told, the school district will lose $1.5 million in state funding, $500,000 in federal aid and experience a one-time health insurance claim cost of $700,000. However, it is the need for the additional funding that has yet to be explained.

Certainly, some additional funds are necessary, but do they total $2.3 million in the first fiscal school year and $3 million in each of the next 4 fiscal school years? The administration has yet to provide a complete explanation.

This prompts a third concern: What is the school district not telling us and why? The school district’s Five Year Forecast contains a more than 25 percent increase in Employees’ Retirement/Insurance Benefits. Is this increase also part of the reason behind the need for this levy?

How this levy issue is decided is of great concern to us all. And while a more thorough explanation for the need for funds has not been given, one thing is very clear — we, as voters, must stop being complacent, inactive and uninformed. We must better educate ourselves as to how our school district works so we can appropriately participate in how the business of our school district is conducted.

Andrew Skrobola, Canfield