Lordstown residents need to understand and support Lordstown schools.
Lordstown schools will have a 5.85-mill levy on the ballot this November. The schools are asking the residents of Lordstown to help keep our schools open and functioning at a high level.
Without the passage of this levy, the district will begin a long downward spiral that could possibly end with the district being dissolved.
Years ago, Lordstown schools prospered due to the General Motors plant located in the village. What residents don't understand is that the schools no longer receive any monies from GM.
When GM was given a 100 percent tax abatement, management at GM and the school agreed that GM would give the schools an agreed upon amount of money for a period of time that has since expired. The village can offer up to a 75 percent abatement and the schools need to sign off for anything higher than 75 percent.
Would GM have left if the schools did not agree to the 100 percent abatement? Nobody knows, but we were not willing to take that chance.
Moving on to state funding: The state of Ohio does not recognize tax abatements when it comes to school funding, therefore Lordstown schools do not receive the per pupil rate of nearly $6,000 that other schools in the county get.
They do get minimal money from the state for things like lunches, busing, and special education but this is just a drop in the bucket.
If the school board had refused to agree to the tax abatement for GM and they closed the Lordstown plant and left the Mahoning Valley, then Lordstown schools could have went on the state funding formula and would receive that $6,000 per pupil and the district would not be in the financial shape it is now in.
It was not a risk the School Board was willing to take.
Back to the current. If this levy fails, the school will be back in fiscal emergency and the state will be in to manage the finances at the school.
This is a very bad thing as Lordstown schools have already cut just about everything that is possible to cut and still offer a great education. The state will make cuts until the district has a balanced budget.
What will be cut? Will it still be worth sending your child or grandchild to a school that offers very little?
Some in the village have asked about the possibility of consolidating with another district. We were approached twice in the past 12 years by the Jackson-Milton School District about a possible consolidation.
We were not interested at those times because we were doing well financially and J-M was not. We did not want to take on their debt.
The shoe is on the other foot now. Who would want to consolidate with Lordstown and take on our debt?
One option further down the road if the state cannot balance our budget is to just dissolve the district. Dissolving the district would mean that you would pay the millage of whatever school district your section of Lordstown went to.
That would be even worse than the 5.85 mills Lordstown is currently asking for.
Passage of the new levy would put Lordstown at about 48 mills. Weathersfield pays more than 60 mills, LaBrae is at 56 mills, Warren is around 60 mills. Would you rather pay those rates?
So, please understand that the current financial condition of the Lordstown school district is not the fault of this school board or past school boards. It is due to the decrease in school funding from the state, the loss of all money from GM, and the continued increase in the costs of health care.
Please support Lordstown schools this November.