Why do you have people in the community raising money for the levy? Where does the fundraising money go? Running any campaign is expensive. The individuals raising money for the campaign are helping to offset those costs. The expenses involve items such as yard signs, postage for mailers, printing costs, ads, etc. For example, 700 yard signs cost the committee $3653 and these costs add up fast. In order to remain compliant as a PAC, required reports are filed with the Lake County Board of Elections and copies of those reports can be requested there.
Why isn't the board transparent? I think they should post the expenditures every month. The expenditures and revenues are posted every month as a part of the report to the board. It can be found each month in the treasurer's report. You can find this on weschools.org
If the levy passes in November, will you be on the ballot again in March for more money? No. If the levy passes in November, the district will not be on the ballot in March. They are going on the ballot only if the November levy does not pass.
If the levy does not pass in November and something is cut, will it return if the levy passes in March? No. If a program (sport, extracurricular, etc) is cut in November, it will not be coming back if the levy passes in March. The only way the district can reinstate a program would be if there is new money generated to bring that back.
Why is the district always on the ballot? The district is on the ballot primarily because of the renewal levies. During the next 20 years, the district will be on the ballot 17 times for renewals alone. The district has not asked for more money for operations since 2012.
What is state minimum busing? If the district were to go to "state minimum busing" this would mean the following: a. No busing for high school students - in district and also private schools b. No busing for students living less than 2 miles from school - all grades c. Parents will have only one drop off point. We will no longer offer multiple drop off or pick up locations. d. Students will no longer be picked up as a "courtesy stop" when they live on a busy street.
If the district knew about the "phase out of Tangible Personal Property" tax money, why didn't they plan better? When the State of Ohio originally announced the cuts of this tax, they first told schools that they would be held "harmless" and that they would continue to receive funding. Later, this changed and they announced a phase out schedule. When it became time for Governor Kasich to leave office, the rate of cuts to districts was accelerated. These cuts were determined by the state and the increase in acceleration could not have been predicted by school districts.
Several people have asked the district about new funding from House Bill 305. If that passes, do you still need money? In order to obtain the most current information, we sought advice from Barbara Shaner, OASBO (the Ohio Association of School Business Officials) Advocacy Specialist. We were able to obtain the most recent numbers but, Mrs. Shaner did caution, “Keep in mind that there will likely be further changes to the bill before it is adopted, so districts cannot be assured these projections will be accurate.” Currently, if the proposed bill passes as it is written, the district would receive an increase in funding of $1,237,634 in fiscal year 2019-2020 and $1,362,138 in fiscal year 2020-2021. The proposed bill is currently in the discussion phase in the House Finance Committee. Once finalized, the proposed bill must be approved by the committee and sent to the Ohio Senate for passage. The proposed bill can be changed at any time or it can be rejected by any of the legislative bodies. Unfortunately, if passed as it currently stands, the district would continue to operate in extreme deficits. This can be seen in the photos below. You can also see a flowchart of the remaining steps that the proposed bill must go through to become a law. The timeline for these steps is unknown. *Note, five-year forecast numbers shown include the passage of all renewal levies To learn more about House Bill 305 click here: https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-summary?id=GA133-HB-305
Does the passage of this levy give the district an “open checkbook?” No. The passage of this levy allows the district to continue to pay the existing expenses that it incurs due to daily operations. The district lost $8.27 million in funds when the State of Ohio cut the revenue generated by Tangible Personal Property tax and this levy will replace those funds.
The district is saying that “non-athletic" supplementals will be cut. What do they mean when they say that? Some of the non-athletic supplementals that will be cut include:
Feature Teachers Association
Home Economic Club
Class Oriented (i.e. Class of 2020, Class of 2021, etc.) (Class Advisor/Key Club)
Instrumental Ensemble Clubs
Vocal Ensemble Clubs
All Foreign Language Clubs
Music Production (includes all Band, Jazz & Choir performances & competitions)
Student Government (Junior Council World Affairs / Student Council)
How common is it to use Emergency Operating Levies (that have to be renewed) for school funding? It is not common to use Emergency Operating Levies for the primary use of funding for schools. Of the districts in Ohio, Willoughby-Eastlake and Boardman Schools are the only two that count primarily on Emergency Operating Levies for school funding.
You say it is "expensive to put renewals on the ballot." How much have you spent in the past to put renewals on the ballot? According to the district treasurer, between the years of 2012 and 2019, the district has paid $152,600.63 for election expenses. This does not include the funds that are used to create literature for levies, yard signs and postage to inform voters and it does not include the cost of placing the bond issue on the ballot. The cost of placing the bond issue on the ballot was $235.85. The expenses used to inform voters (literature, postage, etc.) are donated by citizens in the community.
How much are you budgeting for marching band? Why don’t you cut all activities rather than just some? Roughly $46,000. We are cutting all activities that are not financially self-sustaining. Does this levy replace past emergency levies? No. This levy request is for new money. The new money will be used to replace the money that was lost when the State of Ohio took away district funding that came from Tangible Personal Property Tax. With all of the cuts, shouldn’t overtime have been cut months ago? Overtime actually saves the district money. Because most overtime is used for things like plowing snow or other unexpected events (such as a broken water pipe), it would not be fiscally sound to hire people for these events when they are not a regular occurrence. The difficulty will come in the winter, when there is a need to plow parking lots, shovel sidewalks, or planning for things such as a pipe that breaks over the weekend in one of our buildings. Would you still cut a program if it was self-sustaining? Each program is studied independently in order to review whether or not it is self-sustaining. This is done using records from the treasurer’s office. How much does it currently cost students to pay to participate? The current cost of pay to play is $90 per sport with the exception of football. The cost of football is $120. How are other school district dealing with the loss of funding? The loss of funding from Tangible Personal Property tax varies from district to district. If a district does not have a lot of industry, they may not have lost much money. In districts that have had significant losses, such as Parma and Strongsville, they have been placing levies on the ballot to recover those funds.
Why wouldn’t Browning and other empty buildings be sold regardless of the failure of the levy? In the case of Washington, the school is being used by some cases, organizations that pay rent. With regard to buildings such as Taft, Browning and McKinley, they are resources being used by the community The organizations using the buildings are paying for any significant repairs. Because of the condition of the buildings and the location of the buildings, the sale of each will not generate a significant amount of money for the district. Until now, the district felt that they benefits being given to the community by each organization far outweighed the small amount of money that could be generated by their sale. Is the Board Office full and if not, do we rent out the remaining unused space? We are currently using four of the five floors in the new Board Office. We are trying to rent out the second floor (roughly 8,000 square feet) and have been since we opened the building. If you know of an organization that would like to rent this space, please ask them to call the superintendent’s office. How will misinformation presented on social media be countered? We are currently holding community meetings, presenting at City Council meetings, putting out informational flyers, filming videos explaining the need for the levy, using volunteers to spread the word and presenting at staff meetings to educate staff members. The truth is, we need everyone in the community to assist by sharing the facts about the levy. These facts can be found on Supportweschools.org. If you have a question, there is a place where you can submit a question. Why are people wanting to ruin the lives of students by not passing the levy, which will eliminate extra-curricular activities that are so important to the well-rounded development of students? Most people do not have the facts surrounding how school funding works, the ramifications of a failed levy, and how fiscally responsible the schools are. We are doing everything we can to provide our voters with that critical information.
What does it mean when they say the state aid is capped for our district? Why are we capped and what other districts are capped? We are a capped district, which means we are capped at 3% growth. We lose roughly 3-4 million dollars each year because we are a capped district. There are 614 public school districts in the state of Ohio and 109 are capped.
Are you putting up two levies, one in November and one in March? If the levy passes in November, it will not be on the ballot again. If it does not pass in November, the same levy will be placed on the ballot in March.
Where do we fall in taxes compared to other districts if the levy passes? We will still be one of the lowest in Lake County with the passage of the levy.
Does the State provide extra money for sports like it does for free and reduced lunches? No it does not.
If the levy doesn’t pass will the Excel Tech programs be affected? Since the Excel Tech program is part of a consortium and the costs are distributed among all the districts in the consortium, it does not place a financial burden on the school district. The coursework offered in Excel Tech a part of a student's core curriculum; therefore, Excel Tech will not be affected.
Does the levy amount stay fixed based on the amount assessed at the time of the levy or will it go up as property values rise. As a result of HB 920, the amount of voted money that the district receives from the levy does not change. This voted money will stay the same forever. Is there any discussion about closing the School of Innovation to save money on infrastructure costs? The School of Innovation was purchased because if was cheaper to purchase this building and repurpose it than to complete the necessary repairs at Washington. At this time, because of the size of the student population in Willoughby-Eastlake, the building will continue to be used as a school. If feels like this funding loss came upon us without notice. When did you know this funding loss was coming and what did you do to work with it? The funding loss due to TPP was something that came upon all Ohio districts gradually while Governor Kasich was in office, starting in 2005. However, Governor Kasich accelerated this timetable at the end of his last term. Because the district has been fiscally responsible, the losses have been absorbed to date. Unfortunately, because of inflation, coupled with these losses, it is no longer possible to absorb these losses. The district will need to either cut programming or seek additional funds from the community. Current expenditure per pupil rates and the current total voted millage are among the lowest in the county and below state and county averages.
Since funds for extracurriculars, sports, programs, busing, etc. were set in the 2019-2020 budget, and should be allocated per se., the budget was not set contingent on additional funding from a levy passage. Any cuts, changes, etc should not go into effect until the 2020-2021 school year. When establishing a budget for each school year, all expenses are included to include busing, sports, etc. Because of House Bill 920, all districts experience a “boom and bust” cycle. (Visit supportweschools.org to learn more about that.) When districts know that they are closing in, or are in, deficit spending, they place a levy on the ballot so that they can continue with all current programming. When setting the budget for this year, the district knew that it was necessary to pass a levy to continue all plans. Districts know that in order to move forward with their expenditures, they need to obtain additional revenue or make cuts to those expenditures (which includes cuts). This message was shared with our community for several months. Since the district was not able to pass their levy, and they are in deficit spending (the bust phase of House Bill 920), they did not obtain money to continue with their projected budget. The loss forced the district to revisit their expenses, cut some of them and readjust so that they can continue to keep students in the classrooms. This is the reason that you see cuts taking place now. The district needs to keep as much money in the general funds so that they can continue to educate students.
Paid for by the Willoughby-Eastlake Levy Campaign Bruce Allaben, Treasurer 36470 Carriage Lane Willoughby, Ohio 44094