BARBERTON: Mayor Bill Judge held a community meeting Thursday night at the Lake Anna YMCA to discuss Barberton City Schools’ levy on the May 7 ballot.
The goal of the meeting was to educate and provide factual information to community residents as well as to go into detail of why the levy is needed. Community members asked questions regarding the levy and shared personal experiences to members of the school administration and Board of Education.
If the $3 million, 8.45-mill levy does not pass May 7, arts, music, and sports programs will be reduced or eliminated.
“This levy is important to the city and obviously to the teachers and students.”
Mayor Judge said. “Your home value and the schools are one of the most important factors when a family is deciding where they are going to move.”
The district is asking for a five-year levy to replace lost revenue. During the meeting, board president Joe Stefan addressed how the school controlled cost and reduced spending. This included reducing administrators by 35 percent, consolidating buildings, and having all teachers, administrators and support staff taking pay freezes until 2014.
One of the bigger issues the meeting addressed is why the district spent money on new buildings if they didn’t have the funds to operate them.
“We’re grateful for the beautiful buildings. We are saving money with our energy efficient buildings, but the construction money can not be used for operating expenses,” Superintendent Patti Cleary said.
Pam Papadakis, parent and steering committee member, said the meeting was extremely important and the community response she’s heard about the levy has been positive, but people “just don’t go out and vote.”
Papadakis, along with steering committee member Lisa Mitchell, have attended regular levy meetings and helped with voter registration.
“The bottom line for me is art, music and kindergarten. Grade school affects me the most and with my son going into kindergarten,” she said. “I’m a stay-at-home mom who would like to get a full-time job, and I can’t if he’s part time. My 10 year old brings home a recorder from music class and he loves it. How can I not give that to my little one?”
Oppositions to the levy were few at the Thursday meeting, but those who spoke had concern about failure to follow through on issues such as transportation. Barberton School District was forced to cut bus funding after the last levy failure. The board said if the levy passes on May 7, busing would be restored to previous levels.
“It’s all about the kids,” Mitchell said. “They are a part of the community and will be a part of our adult community at some point in time. Schools affect the community.”
Click here to see what activities will be reduced or eliminated all together if the levy attempt fails.