Canfield schools to collect input, bypass August levy
Canfield Superintendent Dante Zambrini
By Kristine Gill
School board members will meet Tuesday to discuss the effects of this month’s defeat of a 6.8-mill additional operating levy.
“We’re going to try to minimize the impact on the kids,” school board President Brian Kesner said. “That’s really the bottom line at this stage in the game.”
Forty-one percent of Canfield voters supported the additional operating levy.
“Obviously we’re disappointed, but as I said at the town-hall meetings, the board is going to provide the kind of district the voters enable us to provide,” Kesner said.
A 1.6-mill emergency five-year renewal levy was approved with 60 percent of the vote. Board members voted at their last meeting to place the renewal levy on the August ballot in case it failed, but the additional levy will not be on the August ballot.
Superintendent Dante Zambrini said the district instead will conduct surveys through its website, www.canfieldlevy.info, to find out why voters went against the levy.
Zambrini said there was never any intention to have the additional levy on the August ballot.
The board announced phase two of cuts in March, with reductions in staff including 12 teaching and 15 classified staff, implementing pay-to-participate for extracurricular activities and state-minimum busing.
“We’re going to institute almost every part, if not all, of phase two” Kesner said. “It’s going to be tough to minimize impact with state cuts.”
Kesner did not know which positions would be cut in phase two.
“The cuts from phase one are still shaking out,” he said. “It would be terribly presumptuous for me to say.”
Bob Ward, a parent co-chairman on the volunteer levy committee, thinks the most important thing to do now is find out why this levy failed.
“Just blindly throwing the levy back up without changing anything or without finding out why it failed is folly,” he said.
The biggest effort this time around was to educate voters. The district had four town hall meetings leading up to the election in hopes of educating voters on the impact of a failed levy.
A committee of more than 30 parent and teacher volunteers campaigned, passing out yard signs to those in support of the levy and maintaining the district’s levy website.
“The second levy effort was much more robust,” Ward said. “More money was spent, there were more town hall meetings, more mailings were done.”
Ward and his wife Laura will have two students in the district next year. Ward worries his son and daughter who will be in band classes won’t get as good of an experience if the program is pay-to-participate.
“That’s unfortunate because only those who can afford will be able to participate and that will take away from the richness of the program,” he said. “My children are going to see larger class sizes and less offerings.”
Ward expressed thanks for his fellow committee members and hopes the group can help the district in the future. For now, he wants the board to find out whether residents voted the levy down for monetary reasons or because they have issues with the administration or teacher salaries.
“The board really needs to find out what the concerns of the community are,” he said.