NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – In the past year and a half, Niles voters have said “no” to passing school levies four times, including last week’s election on May 7.
Wednesday night, the Niles School Board met for the first time since voters rejected the renewal levy, which failed to pass at 52% to 48%.
One reason it may have failed is that it called for a higher millage rate on the ballot.
“The citizens will still be paying the same taxes as they have been paying since 2017. I don’t know if there was some confusion about that, perhaps because the ballot showed a higher millage level that’s needed to generate those same amount of dollars because the property values in Niles, some of them, have dropped,” said Niles Board of Education President Mary Ann McMahon.
McMahon said she’s frustrated because of the financial distress the district is in and the limited amount of dollars to inform the voters.
“Part of the problem is that we did have a very small balance in our levy fund. We can’t spend monies on levy activities from the general fund, and we shouldn’t be spending monies from the general fund,” she said.
The district will be making some cuts to help with the financial situation. Four teaching positions will be eliminated at the end of this school year.
“I will be very honest with you, with the fiscal commission in the district, we have had to create a financial recovery plan that our board will be asked to board approve [Wednesday] evening. Within that plan, for example, we are honoring our retirees tonight and of those — teachers that have retired — four of those positions will not be replaced,” said Niles School District Superintendent Ann Marie Thigpen.
But these cuts will not be enough. The district could lose $1.3 million a year if this renewal levy is not passed, so they are looking at putting it back on the ballot this fall.