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Canfield school levy bid draws varying views

Published: Tue, September 27, 2011 @ 12:03 a.m.

Voters in the Canfi eld Local School District will have an opportunity to cast a ballot on an operating levy in November.

  • Levy is 4.9 mills for five years

  • The levy would generate $2,751,914 a year

  • It would cost homeowners $8.68 a month per $100,000 of their home’s value, or $104.16 a year for a $100,000 home.

By Christine keeling



School cuts create support and suspicion.

The Canfield Local School District eliminated staff, curriculum and transportation services after voters twice rejected a 6.8-mill operating levy. Those changes are allowing the district to present a lower 4.9-mill levy to voters in November, as well as giving residents a reason for the way they plan to vote.

Sharon Smith has lived in Canfield for nine years and plans to support the district’s levy because she believes education is important for children.

“Children need to be able to go as far as they can,” she said.

And although, Joanne Roberts’ youngest son graduated from the district 20 years ago, she still believes the levy is worth passing.

“It’s a good school,” said Roberts. “We hate to have the school cut back anything for the students.”

She and her husband, Thomas, have lived in Canfield for almost 46 years and raised three kids in the community.

The district, she said, made cutbacks.

After a 6.8-mill operating levy failed in November 2010 and May 2011, the district slashed its budget by $3.6 million. Personnel cuts comprised $1.2 million of the savings, while enacting pay-to-participate in sports and academic clubs, eliminating high school busing and cutting classified personnel saved $548,500. Contract concessions by the district’s unions will total $1.9 million over three years.

Pattie Kesner, the district’s treasurer, said the district lost $1.2 million in state aid this year and is projected to lose approximately $83,000 in annual revenue from unvoted millage due to the reevaluation of property values.

In the district, total property values fell 3 percent.

Joe Conroy has three students in the district but wonders if the district’s money-saving choices were made to inconvenience parents so they would have to support the levy.

“If it doesn’t pass,” said Conroy, “I say that’s just how I am going to have to live — I’ll make it.”

He is, however, concerned that pay-to-participate in sports will lessen the district’s pool of athletic talent.

Lynda West, a 1988 Canfield High School graduate, stayed in the community because of the schools but won’t support the levy because she lacks trust in the administration.

Her choice had nothing to do with the teachers, she said. Instead, she is “disgusted” with the administration choices in cuts they have made.

“I feel like I live in a district that’s run like a dictatorship,” said West.

The administration, she said, has caused dissension between parents and teachers, and the “team spirit” that once existed isn’t there anymore.

“I have very high hopes that everything will work out,” said West. “With two new people on the school board, there will be fresh ideas and opinions.

Board members Renee Gessner and Anthony Peluso will not seek new terms.

As of now, Phil Bova and Lee Fry are running to fill the vacancies.

If the levy passes, the district has said it will retain 12 teachers scheduled to be eliminated in March 2012, restore transportation for high school band members to away games and bus-stop locations for students in kindergarten through eighth grade, and bring back four to five bus drivers.

High school transportation service will not be restored and pay-to-participate fees would remain $100 for middle school students per sport and $200 for high school students per sport. The district waived the pay-to-participate fees for academic clubs and activities Wednesday after it received $51,600 subsidy from the state for its “excellent” ranking.

The levy would generate $2,751,914 a year and cost homeowners $8.68 a month per $100,000 of their home’s value, or $104.16 per $100,000 a year.

The total out-of-pocket expense a homeowner would pay to the district would lessen to $6.13 per $100,000, after the first year, when an existing 1998 bond expires.


1lumper(301 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

when the administrators and teachers pay 25 % towards their health insurance costs and at least 95 % of their retirement costs then the citizens of canfield will consider voting for the levy. it never has, nor never will be, about the students. it is about the fat and happy staying fat and happy. all the "cutbacks" were designed to save a little money, but mostly make the parents miserable. and as an ex-teacher is fry going to be nothing more than another shill /lackey for the school administration and teachers.

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2lee(544 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago


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3intelligentone(5 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Excuse me, music is not extracurricular. Music (band, choir, general music) are co-curricular. That is mandated by the state of Ohio. Sports, like football and basketball, track, baseball, and all others, are extra curricular. So, in a way, I do agree. Make them pay to play football, basketball, sports, and extra curricular subjects. And field trips? How can field trips be an extracurricular class? I never heard of that course being offered.

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4carago11(44 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

The Canfield "Super"intendent gave himself a $3000 raise last year to $103K a year. Teachers in Canfield are making $60-80,000 a year. They have vacation time more than most AS WELL as Summers off. So, to work 8 months a year for this kind of money and ONLY contribute 8% into their healthcare insurance is INSANE. They are no better than the many teachers in this area that are making much less or have to move away due to a lack of jobs. Unions have NO PLACE in the public sector. Having two Principles in the Middle School is crazy! There are no cuts being made. This is NOT helping the students in ANY WAY! Are they getting new laptops? I-pads? Books? a better school? And some in the system got raises last year? They make cuts to inconvenience the parents on bussing instead of all the teachers. This is out of hand. Dante needs to be eliminated from his position for not responding to the parents in Canfield that pay his salary and teachers need to have a reality check before levy increases are needed. I am all for supporting the students and Canfield but this is all about the teachers and leaders continuing to be fat and happy and NOT the students. This does not enhance their education as all. VOTE NO on this levy in November so that this BOARD listens to the residents of Canfield and does their job! Thank you!

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5walter_sobchak(2721 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Music is not an extracurricular activity, it is part of the Fine Arts. But, pay to play is a good idea although I believe the state says it is discriminatory to not allow a student the ability to play if they are needy. And, even though I would prefer that Zambrini leave the district, only the Board can give him a pay increase as he works for them. In any event, I will never forget the "black squirrel" ploy by a Canfield teacher this past year. Let the teachers take a real cut in pay so that their 12 union brothers and sisters can retain their positions.

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6carago11(44 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

The Board should represent the Canfield community. Get Zambrini out of office and replace him with someone that just doesnt kiss everyones ass in order to maintain his high profile high paying job!

Vote No in November!

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7mrsdocglb(9 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

This article was interesting because it reflects the often mind-numbing dichotomy of public opinion regarding this school district.

Prior to the levy failures, anyone looking at Canfield from the outside (and some from the inside!) could be led to believe that the Canfield School District was the equilavent of Utopia. The spin campaign that has been churning for years has championed only the Excellent test scores and state rankings, teacher satisfaction, student safety and student well-being, and state of the art educational facilities and technology.

Anyone with children in this school District knows that it is certainly not utopian. The reasons for this are multiple and complex. The levy failures have spotlighted the seething parent discontent that is actually surprisingly common, and in most cases is well-founded. Many of the problems and issues have arisen from the administrative policies, apathy and decisions that have been dictated by Dante Zambrini and his band of school board followers. Many of these issues could have been easily solved and prevented had Mr. Zambrini had a little more foresight and consideration of parental input, and had a lot less hubris. Parents have been marginalized by the Superintendent and they are fighting back. They are tired of being "punished" or "inconvenienced" for having an opinion that differs from the Superintendent or the School Board. A vote against the levy does not translate to a vote against the children of the District or the quality of the teaching. In my opinion it is an indictment of the leadership of the district and equates to a vote of no confidence in their abilities to make sound, fiscally-responsible decisions. Hopefully the end result will be positve change and effective leadership of this District. There needs to be a return of honesty, integrity, and good sound judgement to the Administration of this District. It will not happen if the levy is passed.

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8intelligentone(5 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

All this over $8.68 per month? How bout you cut out your cable TV? What's more important, your child's education, or your cable TV? Buy cheaper clothes instead of the name brands. If you want to complain about 9 months of work the teachers do, then lets push for all year school.

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9Philo(99 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Given the state of extreme dissatisfaction, it would probably make sense for the entire administration to step down, in the best interests of the children and the district. The only alternative is vote NO and replace the Board members with individuals who will remove the existing administrators and hire individuals who are more inclined to do the public's bidding.

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10carago11(44 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

@intelligentone. Its not $8.68 per month for me and most homes are higher priced than $100K in Canfield. Its also, the principle of what its being used for and how its being managed. The last levy would have costed me nearly $1,000 a year. This one about $250.00 a year. Why should the 80 year old collecting social security have to help cover health insurance for the teacher who made $78K last year and gets so many perks? What about the unemployed? What about property values going down? A recession we are in? And because of Unions these teachers and Zambrini are not be affected? How many teachers in this area that are moving away because they cannot get a job even making $30K a year and are very qualified. Yet, the fat and happy teachers of Canfield will never leave their overpaid job even when they are past their prime. Canfield residents are not stupid and know and feel they are being punished. Also, this does not help the students at all. A major NO will occur in November and will continue for years to come until things are on a level playing field! Thanks!

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11mrsdocglb(9 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Despite protestations to the contrary, any levy money generated by a levy will be funneled directly to District salaries and benefits. Students will see little of it that money which could potentially directly impact the quality and variety of their education. We will have more school bus drivers, more parent paraprofessionals, and a few more teachers. There will be no new buildings, no new textbooks, no new school buses, no new classroom technology, and no new additions to the curriculum.

The school board will not step down. The members who are not up for re-election are too personally invested in keeping Dante Zambrini as the leader of the District and in protection of their own personal interests. His contract is up for negotiation in December, I believe. If past history and behavior are any indication of what is to come, the current school board will "negotiate" and ratify a new contract for Mr. Zambrini before years' end. The new school Board members will have no say in the contract. Most likely we will be stuck with Mr. Zambrini for the duration of another contract.

We are stuck unless someone has the guts to intitiate a real change.

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12simpleton(33 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

@mrsdoc....are the parent paraprofessionals those mommy's Zambrini brings in to sub in the class instead of real teachers? Haha, I bet they are. Oh, that's right, it saves the district money to have Johnny's bored mother, with no teaching degree, come in and babysit the class for sometimes an entire 9 week period. Meanwhile, all of the other teachers out there looking for work don't get a chance. Another excellent decision by our Super Duper Zambrini.

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13carago11(44 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Can there be a board meeting/vote to oust Zambrini? Can we protest election day? I hear so many negative things about him. How is his contract made up? When the does the board review and renew it? Who has the answers??

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14ou812(4 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

I agree with most of these comments. Canfield Schools need a change. As I have stated before Zambrini has to go. The only two additions to the board will be two former teachers. We see where this is going. As far as the teachers union goes I agree they should pay more for health care and most make to much money. I totally disagree with the retire and rehire process. Please retire and stay retired so we can get new teachers right out of college that were taught with the latest technolgy.
The school must have money in order to pay last weeks football opponent 2000 bucks to come to Canfield and play.
If Zambrini cared about the school system and the future of our kids then he would man up and walk away.

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15southsidedave(5199 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Everyone forgets when they were in school and taxpayers supported levies for them. It is your turn to support the next generation, or risk our children falling behind in the global society.

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16carago11(44 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

@ou812 I could not agree with you more. Please everyone, read that posting!!!

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17taxpayer1001(274 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

I'm glad there seems to be a few people in Canfield that see how they have "punished" parents in response to not passing they levy. I'm not in Canfield, but it makes me crazy to see how no changes were made to the teachers benefits to save money, which was the only goal of rejecting the levy. The board instead chose to take it out of anything that hurts the parents and kids. Makes me sick. I would hate to see this pass only for that reason. I don't necessarily put that all on the staff, but instead most of the blame is on the board and Zambrini.

Although some teachers are spiteful also, just remember the "black squirrel" crusade! What an insulting and jaded escapade that was to the system.

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18canfieldrebel(37 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago


It is true there are some very qualified, capable and dedicated employees of this district. But your comments are a prime example of why things have been allowed to perpetuate in this school district that would not be tolerated elsewhere. if your child is happy, healthy and safe in school your inclination is to turn a deaf ear to problems. Like any school district, Canfield has its problems, but the danger is in the attempt to bury the problems to protect the appearance of quality and excellence....at all costs.
If the only complaints you are aware of are on this forum, you are lucky. And probably the parent of a child in kindergarten or another early primary grade. Enjoy your nice protective cacoon now...elementary school is usually pretty trouble free. That is, of course, unless you are a parent of a special needs child or a child with a learning disability or behavior problem. Then you will be forced to endure the "Principle/Teacher" knows best philosophy and the abuse of your child's civil and educational rights by the Special services office in the school district.

Any parent of a child in middle school or high school has had to endure the abuses and neglect of the Zambrini -led district Administration. Many of us have tried to reasonably communicate with the Administration in an attempt to advocate for our children's safety and educational rights. Our attempts have been futile and frustrating. We have been met with derision and criticisim by Mr. Zambrini and the school board members. Our children have been targeted and our reputations have been targeted because we have dared to speak out about the things we see and our children experience. Mr. Zambrini and the school board want everyone to "feel good" about the district, even when there are grounds for concern and a need for obvious change. How many teachers in this district have been ineffective in the classroom and have been granted tenure because of a personal relationship with the superintendent or the school board? How many parent paraprofessionals have been hired to care for special needs children or to work in the school classrooms...many of whom are not qualified, don't have experience in that environment, but whom "know" someone or are related to someone? How many episodes of teacher abuse in the classroom have not been adressed appropriately or were swept under the rug to avoid publicity? How many bus accidents have gone unreported for the same reason? How many children have been threatened, bullied, or abused in school and their cries for help have gone unheard? What is it going to take to bring about a change? A child's death or suicide? Yes...this is a possibility and is not an overexaggeration of the problems. When is enough, enough?

For some of us, it has been enough for some time. We are just glad people are opening up their eyes and ears.

Vote no. Dante Zambrini needs to go.

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19Shoooooo(14 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

The Canfield "black squirrels" say VOTE NO on the Canfield School Levy

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