School Levy Profile: Chardon Schools

Chardon Local Schools is a district serving 3,300 students at six schools. The District’s 2010-11 budget was almost $34 million, with a third of that coming from the State. The district’s revenue has been in decline, and in 2011, they were forced to cope with the loss of another $2.5 million thanks to a two-year state budget that reduced funding for education by $1.8 billion.

In addition to state budget cuts and lower property tax revenues, the district cites unfunded state mandates such as curriculum changes and online testing requirements that force the purchase of new textbooks, computers and software as a drain on resources.

Chardon has already made severe cuts. Nearly $6.5 in spending was eliminated in part through salary freezes and health insurance contribution increases. The District has also made cuts to fine arts, music, business, technology, foreign language and electives. Yet the district still faces a $700,000 deficit this year, expected to grow to $3 million in 2013-14.

On the November ballot, taxpayers are facing a request for a 5.95-mill levy that will raise $3.7 million annually. It will cost homeowners $182 annually for a $100,000 home.

Four levy attempts have failed, the most recent in August. If the current levy fails, it represents the district’s last opportunity to collect any new dollars in 2013. As a result, the following cuts will be made:

  • Eliminate the Gifted and Talented program at the elementary level, including one teacher
  • Eliminate a Kindergarten teacher and consolidate classes, increasing student to teacher ratio
  • Eliminate intervention specialist, guidance counselor, literacy coach
  • Reduce art and foreign language for high schoolers, eliminate language offerings in middle school
  • Double activity fees from $50 to $100 and pay to play fees from $225 to $450;
  • Reduce bus routes and drivers
  • Reduce the cafeteria and custodial staff
  • Eliminate web design, AP computer science, and business courses

Perhaps most disturbing is the further reduction in counseling staff as the district is still coping with the aftermath of a tragic school shooting.At a recent levy information session, one parent asked what it would mean for Chardon kids:

“If we take away their activities, their advanced classes, their music — the things that mean a lot to them, both personally and for their preparation for college and life, what are we telling them?” she asked. “We’re telling them that the majority of the community does not care enough about them to make sure they have any more than the absolute minimum. Is that what we really want for out kids, just barely enough?” (Geauga Maple Leaf, September 20, 2012)