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Deeper cuts coming for school district

November 9, 2011
By J.T. Whitehouse
The unofficial results on Wednesday morning showed 55.66 percent of voters said no to the Canfield School district’s 4.9 mill levy. The district must now look into the next round of cuts for 2012.

“There is no more time,” said Canfield Superintendent Dante Zambrini. “The opportunity to bring in new money for 2012 has passed. Cuts will have to be made.”

Zambrini said the last new levy was a 6.9 mill that was approved in 2002. He said the district went eight years on that money, which was expected to last five.

He said Tuesday’s 4.9 mill levy came as a result of voters turning down a 6.8 mill levy last year. The Board of Education made cuts in staff and changes in busing and after-school activities to balance the budget for the school year. The decision was then made to put a lesser levy on the ballot that would not bring back the cuts already made.

Zambrini said the district is now in deficit spending and Tuesday’s levy would have prevented further cuts.

“The community said 6.8 mills was too much,” Zambrini said. “The board looked at phase I and II reductions and over the summer had met with all the labor groups.”

He said through the meetings, Canfield school employees agreed to wage freezes, step freezes (moving up the ladder), and an increase in the percentage paid for health care costs. Those moves saved the district $1.9 million.

Adding to the savings was a cut in busing and bus drivers that saw no high school busing and a redo for K-8 bus stops. The board also accepted a pay-to-play fee that when combined with the busing issues, saved the district $550,000.

“The goal is we have to balance the budget,” Zambrini said. “Reductions and concessions alone will not do that.”

He also stated that Tuesday’s vote was the last attempt to bring in new money in 2012, meaning the 2012-13 school year will see the next round of cuts, or what is being called Phase 3.

“We deeply regret that the 4.9 mill levy was defeated,” Zambrini said. “The amount of the levy was reduced and with the retirement of the bond issue, this levy was reasonable. Many residents said the former millage was too costly. The Board of Education listened and made changes. Now the board will have to research its options. We will be cutting into a different layer of operations. It will be painful.”



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