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Barberton school board announces possible cuts if May levy fails

By Courtney Kerrigan
Ohio.com correspondent

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School board member Maggie Masson (right) speaks emotionally about the board's decision to layoff school staff at a previous board meeting. Barberton City Schools’ art, music and sports programs are vetted to be reduced or eliminated if the $3 million levy does not pass May 7, school board members announced Wednesday night. (Michael Chritton/Akron Beacon Journal)

BARBERTON: Barberton City Schools’ art, music and sports programs are vetted to be reduced or eliminated if the $3 million levy does not pass May 7, school board members announced Wednesday night as they discussed recommendations for cuts.

“These eliminations or cuts are not easy for any of us to have to think about or discuss,” board president Joe Stefan said. “Each one of us on the Board of Education, we each have our passions... and these things actually equate to people and that makes it always very tough.”

Stefan listed several cuts and reductions with failure of the proposed 8.45-mill levy in May:

      -elimination of elementary art and music programs, which may lead to a shortened day

      -reduction of kindergarten classes to half-day, pending the governor’s budget

      -elimination of middle school foreign languages

      -reduction of high school foreign languages

      -doubling pay-to-participate fees

      -continuation of bussing cuts to state minimum

      -reduction of middle school sports

      -reduction of high school and middle school music programs

Ryan Pendleton, district treasurer/chief financial officer, said these cuts would save about $1 million to $1.2 million.

“We said everyone has their passion and we know mine is in creativity and the importance of the arts and a total education for our children,” board member Maggie Masson explained. “That will be very, very difficult, not for us, not for the parents but it’s going to be very difficult for the children. Think about what they look forward to when they go to school.”

Stefan also listed what would be guaranteed if the levy passes:

      -restored bussing to students in a one-mile radius

      -continued rate for pay-to-participate fees

      -continued full day kindergarten classes

      -continued elementary art and music programs

Board member Megann Eberhart was noticeably choked up when discussing the potential cuts, describing how her daughter has a love for the arts.

“This just totally breaks my heart,” she said. “We’ve cut as much as we can around the fringes and protected the core academics of the classroom and until the community can see the good things going on we’re going to have to start eliminating programs for our students and we’re at that point.”

Barberton is projected to receive a $1.5 million increase in state funding beginning in fiscal year 2014 and will see no state funding cuts in fiscal year 2013 beginning this July, according to early projections behind Gov. John Kasich’s new school funding formula. School districts must now wait for lawmakers in Columbus to review and revise Gov. Kasich’s funding plan.



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