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Poland officials hope 4th try succeeds



Published: Sun, October 28, 2012 @ 12:03 a.m.

By Ashley Luthern

aluthern@vindy.com

POLAND

School officials hope residents say yes to a new levy on the Nov. 6 ballot, after saying no three times in the past two years.

The 5.9-mill, five-year additional emergency operating levy would generate $2,181,867 annually and cost the owner of a $100,000 home $180.68 annually.

Treasurer Don Stanovcak said the district — which has a general-fund budget of about $19 million — will see a deficit at the end of 2013-14 school year, although it should be less than the $2.2 million projected in the May five-year forecast. A new forecast will be submitted to the state this week.

“The cuts are starting to help, but they won’t fix the long-term problem,” Stanovcak said.

The district eliminated elementary counseling and K-4 specialists who taught art, music and physical education. It got rid of high-school busing and cut health benefits for 50 percent of the district’s bus drivers. It also instituted pay-to-play and has a no-new-textbook policy.

Since 2003 when the last new levy was approved, seven teaching positions have been eliminated. In 2011-12, there were 110 elementary-, middle- and high-school teachers.

In the last five years, the district has lost $5.5 million in state revenue.

“You will not recognize the Poland schools next school year if this levy fails on Nov. 6,” said interim Superintendent Don Dailey.

If the levy fails, the school board has said it will consider eliminating all-day kindergarten, extracurricular and athletic supplemental contracts and busing within a two-mile radius of each school, which also would affect Holy Family students because the district provides busing for those students, Dailey said.

The other considerations are closing a school, implementing open enrollment and re-submitting the property-tax levy in a special election or placing a tax on earned income before voters.

“Sometimes the impact is not immediate. One of the considerations if the levy fails is elimination of all-day kindergarten. You won’t see the results of that tomorrow, but you’ll see it years down the road,” Dailey said.

He noted the academic report card released this month that named the district excellent with distinction used data from the 2011-12 school year.

“That reflects last year’s data, and many cuts were implemented last year. I’m not sure if we’ll fare as well next year,” he said.

Dailey said employees have been on a two-year wage and step freeze. The annual average teacher salary is $56,073, and the annual average administrator salary is $70,720.

At a September school-funding forum, Dailey had said the average Poland teacher’s salary was much lower.

“Being pressed for time, someone was asked to find the average teacher salary for the forum. The average was pulled off a website and it was later determined to be inaccurate,” said Dailey, who was hired by Poland in September.

Stanovcak said the two-year step freeze has saved the district about $656,000.

Poland is in a health-insurance consortium that covers districts in Mahoning County except Youngstown, Austintown and Boardman, and through the consortium, the contribution by employees will increase automatically from 5 percent to 10 percent in July 2014.

“All our employees are cognizant that things will continue to be tight even if the levy is approved,” Dailey said.

Dailey said residents seem to be more supportive of the levy now. The outside levy committee, which is funded through private donations, has about 80 members and increased visibility of the campaign, he said.

“Everyone benefits with a strong public-school system,” he said.

Also on the Nov. 6 ballot are renewal measures for Poland Village and the Western Reserve Joint Fire District, which covers Poland village and township.

The village is seeking a five-year, 2-mill renewal levy that generates $109,515 annually for the village’s general fund and costs the owner of a $100,000 home $58.71 annually.

The fire district is seeking a 1-mill, five-year renewal levy for fire services to raise $274,807 annually. That levy costs the owner of a $100,000 home $24.25 annually.


Comments

1islandgrump(58 comments)posted 1 year, 5 months ago

Where is the state lottery money that was supposed to be the saving grace for the Ohio schools????

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2lee(544 comments)posted 1 year, 5 months ago

Have you got rid of the union, or the non teacher positions have you cut the superintendents pay? when you have cut all you can we will vote for a new tax but not until you do.

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3youngstown615(94 comments)posted 1 year, 5 months ago

"Island" the lottery money is being used for school funding, but that same amount is being funneled into the State operating budget!! Big joke. Bottom line.....all the schools are being under state funded. Poland, Canfield ETC. Cutting wages & benifits is the only answer. Taxing property owner will not fly anymore. The manufacturing sector has been "salary & benifit" hit for years & years & no one cared. Police, firemen, teachers .....join the crowd. People are NOT retiring & moving into the Valley. The money is not there. Class sizes must change. 40 or 50 in a class may become the norm. It was like that when the "Boomer" were going through their "school years" ( A few came out smart )

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4dennishough(4 comments)posted 1 year, 5 months ago

Why do the employees only pay 5% toward their healthcare? The standard in other schools and in the corporate world is more like 20% or higher. As the treasurer mentioned, the 5-year forecast will show a much lower deficit than projected in May, meaning the cuts they implemented are working. Vote NO on the levy until Poland School Board realizes they still have more that they can cut.

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5commoncitizen(942 comments)posted 1 year, 5 months ago

NO NEW taxes or levies!!!! For anyone!!!

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6dennishough(4 comments)posted 1 year, 5 months ago

Here is some quick math: Poland has a $19M budget. Probably 80% of that is salaries and benefits, and maybe 40% of that number is benefits. Having the employees pay 20% of their healthcare would net the district just over 900K per year. Remind me again why the district so desperately needs an extra $2M of our tax dollars? Looks like there is more room to cut in the district. As mentioned in the article, the cuts are working, and the deficit is shrinking...just a little more to do and you can balance your budget without an increase...

Vote NO until they raise the employee contribution to 20%. I'm not paying an extra $600 per year just to keep their healthcare premium so low.

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7Knightcap(605 comments)posted 1 year, 5 months ago

@dennishough
You are correct. They make a decent wage. More than the average worker in this area. I don't see any reason why they don't pay 20 to 25% of their health-care other then greed and shelfishness.

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8MrB(2 comments)posted 1 year, 5 months ago

So if I read this right, when this levy fails the board will consider another special election or possibly a new income tax on residents. It seems that with each new levy attempt there are additional threats.
I will continue to vote "No" until the Poland School Board steps up to the plate and negotiates on behalf of the residents.

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9polandfan(24 comments)posted 1 year, 5 months ago

dennis,
here's the problem with your math: the healthcare portion of the budget is roughly $1M. So taking the employee payment from 5% to 20% only saves $150,000. Not that it shouldn't happen as part of an overall reduction package whether the levy passes or not, but nowhere near the figure you stated.

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10poland21(91 comments)posted 1 year, 5 months ago

MrB: The Ohio Department of Education will be involved in the financial decisions of Poland schools if this levy fails. There will absolutely be another levy on the ballot again and again until it passes. That is how Ohio School Funding works. This is not Poland's fault, it is the state government's fault. Please do not blame Poland for a broken state system.

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11ytownisajoke(31 comments)posted 1 year, 5 months ago

For those of you against the levy- you need to start thinking about your property values. Liberty was once a flourishing community with great property values. Times have changed people- protect your community and educate your children. These are the foundations that we need to rally behind. Cuts??? If you don't know or understand what has already been cut then you are clearly out of the loop. Visit www.abulldogforever.com and educate yourself on the facts.

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12BoardmanBranch(42 comments)posted 1 year, 5 months ago

We don't fear the Department of Education--we're willing to vote for an honest levy. The state government does share some of the blame, but there has been rampant spending for years in the district with no attempt to reign in personnel or benefits cost. Let me say it again, given what this staff has enjoyed while the rest of the world has been in recession, all possible cuts should be made before coming to the taxpayer. We can't trust the schools enough to give them the money before they make the cuts. Been there, done that. Look where we ended up. And if there hadn't been a public reaction to the average teacher salary announced at the forum, I wonder if the real average would have been revealed. As for property values--you are kidding. We are so far away from this affecting property values it's laughable. What about the other side--making it so expensive to live in Poland that no one will move there?

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13AnotherAverageCitizen(1172 comments)posted 1 year, 5 months ago

Just wait. If Willard becomes president he wants to cut education by 22%.

Don't you folks get it? Willard, kasich and repubs don't want to help educate people. They don't want people to get paid well. They are against middle class. They want people to stay uneducated so they can pay you less money, no benefits and repubs profit more off of the poor working people.

Willard wants the 47% dependent on govt and make that number 97%. But he will take away what the govt does and want 97% to be happy making minimum wage and no benifits.

Wake UP America.

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14AnotherAverageCitizen(1172 comments)posted 1 year, 5 months ago

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=...

NO NEW TAXES. Willard just calls them fees.

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15ytownisajoke(31 comments)posted 1 year, 5 months ago

You all sound like my next door neighbor. Retired from GM after 30 years at age 52, was making 100k a year with 5% co-pay on benefits. And he is the guy pointing a finger at teachers saying they make too much. He has a high school education and put screws on a car for a living. Teachers have years of schooling and are educating the youth of America. Something seems a little backword here don't ya think?

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16meagain(77 comments)posted 1 year, 5 months ago

This statement says alot about you.

"Let me say it again, given what this staff has enjoyed while the rest of the world has been in recession, all possible cuts should be made before coming to the taxpayer."

Just out of curiosity. Complete this sentence for me. If it were up to me teachers would make $____________ per year.

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17BoardmanBranch(42 comments)posted 1 year, 5 months ago

And your statement says a lot about you. This is not about what teachers should make per year. It is about what can be afforded given the financial circumstances of the system they work for. It is about the fact that in the real world people have had no raises for years, and are currently paying a lot more for insurance plans that cover much less than the plan the Poland schools enjoy. Pensions--you can count on one hand the number of people who have them, and they pay into them, unlike the administrative staff at Poland. But you don't care about those facts--just keep billing the taxpayer. This is the attitude that so many voters find offensive. Even then, many would support a levy if the obvious cuts were made. It would at least demonstrate intent to reign in costs.

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