By Ed Runyan
It was a rough night for officials with Niles City Schools, as two additional levies were handily defeated at the polls, one by 70 percent, the other by 69 percent.
The levies were 4.65 mills to generate $1.1 million annually for operating expenses and 1 mill to generate $237,000 annually for permanent improvements.
The superintendent, Frank Danso, said the funding was needed to keep the district’s red ink from getting worse.
“We need to evolve out of deficit spending, and without these levies, we can’t do it,” said Frank Danso, Niles interim superintendent.
The permanent improvement levy was for upgrading technology, particularly at Niles Middle School, which opened in 2003.
“The technology [there] is 10 years old, meaning it hasn’t been changed since the school opened,” Danso said. “Technology is changing so quickly, and upgrades are needed to prepare students for the workforce.”
Niles schools have been under state fiscal watch since 2003.
The news was better in Girard, where a 5-year, 3.9 mill renewal levy was approved 62 percent to 38 percent.
Superintendent David Cappuzzello said the levy will help the school cover teacher salaries, utility costs, classroom technology and teaching aids for students.
“This levy goes into everything that makes the school run,” said Cappuzzello. The levy first was approved in 1988. It generates $534,534 every year and supports the district’s four schools on two campuses. The junior high and senior high schools are on Shannon Road, while the intermediate and elementary campus is on Prospect Street.
McDonald voters approved a 3.85-mill, five-year renewal levy that will allow the district to bring back several teaching and support employees eliminated two years ago because of the district being in fiscal emergency, said Superintendent Ken Halbert. It will generate $200,147 per year.
It will bring back a half-day special-education teacher at the junior high and continue the police presence in the school that began Feb. 1 with a McDonald police officer in the schools full time.
The district had to eliminate 14 supplementary positions two years ago but hopes to restore nine of them for positions such as adviser to academic clubs, sports coaches and safety patrol.
Voters in Weathersfield Township approved additional funds for the fire department, giving the OK to a 2.5-mill continuous levy that will generate $346,811 annually.
The levy will generate $175,874 more than three existing continuous levies it replaces, which generate an estimated $170,937 annually.
Voters in Champion supported an additional 5.95-mill school levy, 52 percent to 48 percent. It will raise an additional $1,010,997 annually for 10 years.