State May Intervene if Levy FailsWednesday, October 22, 2008 By Alyssa Miller
On Tuesday, November 4, Amherstonians will be voting to pass or fail the Amherst School District's 6.9 mill Emergency Operations Levy. This levy, if passed, will help to maintain what the school district already has. If it fails, $3 million will need to be cut. Cuts have already been made in the last few years. The result of these previous cuts was the removal of busing for high school students and students in grades five though eight that live less than two miles from their school. Six bus drivers were eliminated and paid hours were lowered for the remaining drivers. According to The National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, "The best-qualified teachers are typically recruited to better-funded districts with high levels of support. Teachers who have options want to work in schools that pay them adequately and support their efforts well." Finding and keeping well-qualified teachers will be difficult if the November levy fails. Although the Amherst Board of Education is not yet sure of what exactly will be cut if the levy doesn't pass, they are considering eliminating all extracurricular activities, which would alleviate many expenses of the district. The Emergency Operations Levy will also help the Amherst School District to "Stop the Slide" into State Control. Amherst Schools already meet the financial criteria for Fiscal Caution. The district must submit a plan to the Ohio Department of Education on how it plans to solve the deficit. If the plan is not approved, Amherst may be placed into Fiscal Caution. This would be the first step to being placed into Fiscal Emergency, which is typically declared when a school's spending exceeds its yearly funding by 2%. Under the control of the State, a Financial Planning and Supervision Commission, headed by a State Superintendent Office Official, the Amherst School District can be taken control of from the locally elected school board. State law grants these commissions the power to make cuts in teachers, support staff, and administrators, eliminate programs and extracurricular activities, enter into contracts on behalf of the school district, and remove the superintendent or treasurer as they see necessary. In 2010, the district will have to begin borrowing money from the State, which will make its funding shortfall even deeper because it must be paid back with interest (this all came from Winiarski, but I’m still waiting for a response from him as to where all of this information came from). On Saturday, October 4, Superintendent Steve Sayers appeared on the Steele News Live telethon from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm to answer callers' questions regarding the levy. Clips from the telethon can be found at The Record Online (insert website). More will be posted in the future. On election day, the polls will open at 6:30 am and will close at 7:30 pm. If anyone has questions or comments regarding the levy or its consequences, Levy Chairman Chuck Winiarski can be reached at 440-864-5437 and via email at Chuckw@centurytel.net.