Newton Falls school board, residents debate if timber harvesting is right way to raise funds

Local News

The Newton Falls School District in Trumbull County is struggling financially. Now, school officials are finding new ways to generate money.

The district has been talking about harvesting timber on school grounds for about a year.

By 3 p.m. Friday, a final decision will be made. The school board will either accept or deny timber harvesting bids on 42 acres of forest that the district owns.

But some community members are not happy about it, like Newton Falls resident and biologist Ethan Kistler, who wants the trees to stay.

“How many school districts in this area have 40, 50 acres of prime forest to take biology students out into the forest to learn about the environment?” he asked.

Fighting alongside Kistler is another Newton Falls resident, Patti Hanzes, who says this solution to raising funds is merely a band-aid on the bigger issue.

“The money that they’re going to gain for the cutting down of the trees is a drop in the bucket. It is not going to solve the financial issues of the school,” she said.

Board members disagree with Hanzes and Kistler, saying this idea has been thought out and is a small step in the right direction.

“We’re certainly trying to embrace a lot of different areas but we felt this was the best option,” one board member said at a meeting Thursday night.

But Hanzes and Kistler argued that this land might not even be owned by the district. They discovered a deed from 1987 that said…

“If it wasn’t utilized for educational or public purposes it automatically reverted to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources,” Hanzes explained.

Board members maintain that the land is being used for the correct purpose.

“There’s not a person on this board that doesn’t love this school and doesn’t love this community and we would never do anything that is not good for it,” another board member said at the meeting.

Superintendent Paul Woodard says if they accept a bid, the harvesting will be done in late July or early August and the money will go into the school’s general funds.

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