Canfield school levy bid draws varying views

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.

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