No more yearbooks, sports for Willougby-Eastlake middle schools

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EASTLAKE, Ohio (WJW)-- Middle school yearbooks will no longer be produced as a result of extensive cuts to extracurricular activities by the Willoughby-Eastlake City Schools after voters rejected an operating levy.

"Yearbooks are something kids look forward to," said Stacey McGuigan, PTO President of Willougby-Eastlake's School of Innovation, where her daughter is in the seventh grade. "There is a sentimental value, for sure, and I know she looks through my old yearbooks."

Dozens of activities with supervisors under supplemental contracts were eliminated during a special meeting of the board of education on Nov. 14.

The district is making more than $2 million in cuts after voters rejected a levy this month that would have offset reductions in state funding that the district said totaled more than $8.2 million.

Middle school and freshmen sports, band and all clubs were also among the programs eliminated. More cuts, including a reduction in busing to state minimums, are planned for 2020.

"Unfortunately, following the levy failure on Nov. 5, Willoughby-Eastlake had to decrease spending, and many of those dollars came from student programming involving supplemental contracts. Each of these cuts have had a negative impact on our students, and we regret that these difficult decisions had to be made," superintendent Steve Thompson said in a statement provided to FOX 8 News.

The levy's failure prompted mother Krissy Klouda to launch a Facebook group, "Ohioans for Improved School Funding." The group, with nearly 2,000 members, advocates for changes to the state's school funding system, which has repeatedly been deemed unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court. It includes contact information for lawmakers and updates on related state legislation.

"It's going to take time, and it's going to take a lot of people working together, but we have to do something," Klouda said.

Meanwhile, students are left without some of their favorite activities and school-year memories from middle school.

"People are stepping up and trying to propose different options, even just as simple as creating a memory book, but it's not the same," Klouda said. "You don't have those sports pictures and those extracurricular pictures and even the class picture."

Yearbook at the high school level will continue, since it is produced through a class and doesn't require a supplemental staff contract.

The district is placing another levy on the March ballot.

"It is our hope that in March, the levy will receive community support, and, if the levy passes, the district plans to make every effort to assess which items it can afford to reinstate," Thompson said in the statement.

If the levy fails, the district said more cuts are planned.

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