PARMA, Ohio - Across Northeast Ohio, voters delivered crushing blows to school levies on the ballot. The latest defeat even more worrisome for Parma City School District, already under state-sanctioned fiscal caution.
"Our budget is balanced for the next three years," said superintendent Charles Smialek. "Our point to the community was yes, you can balance a budget but at what cost?"
Smialek says he was surprised the district's 4.5 mill school levy failed to pass. It would have cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $13 a month. Smialek says Parma has not passed a new money levy since 2011 and could be forced to consolidate schools as a result.
"We've cut 23 million dollars from our budget in the last three years, so this levy was about restoring some of those most critical resources to students," said Smialek.
A series of failed levies has resulted in drastic cuts to the district in the past. The superintendent describes how class sizes have swelled amid slashing staff and programs.
"Middle school students sit in 84 minutes of study hall because we've had to cut academic courses that we can't afford those teachers for anymore just to again balance the budget," explained the superintendent.
He continued, "So we have made dramatic cuts; really this comes down to what type of quality education do we want to provide our students?"
In Strongsville, school officials also reacted to a failed 7.9 mill continuous levy, which would have provided approximately $11.3 million annually for the district. Superintendent Cameron Ryba released the following statement:
“Although we are disappointed with the election results for Issue 8, our District will continue to move forward. We would like to thank the many volunteers who supported Issue 8 going door-to-door, hosting neighborhood coffee talks, placing yard signs throughout the community, and endorsing Issue 8 by sharing the positive story of Strongsville City Schools. We will seek another opportunity to place this operating levy on the ballot, as these dollars are critical to the future of our District and the opportunities we are able to provide our students. Continued failure of this operating levy will result in cost reduction measures that will negatively affect our District’s programs, services, and resources for our students."
Euclid City Schools superintendent Dr. Marvin Jones II, also weighed in on their failed levy:
"Today, we will begin the planning process for our next steps. Unfortunately, adults will be impacted by this outcome. Despite the loss of Issue 4, we will not let it interrupt our focus on student achievement. We will use this time to realign our efforts. I believe that there are things that we are doing well and there are things that we need to modify. I believe that our students can and will achieve. Our goal, as always, will be to mitigate the impact on our students as their needs will continue to be our top priority."
Parma school officials say voters will have a chance to voice their opinion on potential future school consolidation. A series of district town hall meetings is scheduled through May of 2019.