Barberton City Council passed a school levy endorsement by a 7-1 vote Monday night in support of the upcoming $3-million levy, Issue 3 on the ballot.
City Council members Terry Avant and John Lysenko both expressed their support for the May 7 levy, stressing the necessity of a strong school system in order to have a strong community.
“People come into the city and look at the conditions of the streets, condition of the homes, but the ultimate thing that I do believe people look for is a good school district to raise their children,” Avant said.
Lysenko invited those school administrators who do not live in Barberton to make the move into the city in order to have a more vested interest in the success of the schools and the community.
Council member Gary Endres was the only opposition to the endorsement, explaining that the problem is at the state level.
“The financial vehicle to fund the Ohio schools is broken, and along with that, most of the residents in Ohio can’t afford it,” he said, who previously voted no in October to endorse the November levy.
Although he is voting yes, Lysenko stressed concern for the possibility of continued cuts if the levy is passed.
“Part of my concern is that by endorsing this, it will somehow lead the state to believe that those cuts can continue, and I think they’re going to continue and that’s why I’m hesitant,” he said. “The cuts that I’ve read about for the levy that would happen if this doesn’t pass, I think, are more significant than in past situations.”
If the 8.45-mill, emergency operating levy does not pass, the schools will have to cut about $1 million in art, music, foreign language and sports programs.
Reductions in state funding and the devaluation of real estate in the city have led to about $4 million in losses of operating funds. If passed, the five-year levy will only replace lost revenue.
“Without education there’s no future, there’s no moving forward,” Mayor Bill Judge said. “We want to move forward with education attainment, quality of life, wealth so I think it’s apparent that this levy does pass and we do continue to provide for our students and our community.”
The Barberton School District recently received an “Excellent” rating, which Council President Fred Maurer said hasn’t been endured in years and wants to keep that momentum going.
“The term investment is thrown around in Washington like it actually means something to those people. It doesn’t,” he said. “But the reality is that if we invest in our youth they will do better going forward, their wealth will increase and poverty will go down.”