The Akron Board of Education voted to pursue a levy request after concluding that persistent and crippling financial hardships would only worsen without an injection of financial support from the community.
The goal of Issue 61, in a nutshell, is to continue providing a quality education to more than 22,000 APS students while respecting taxpayer dollars.
Please read the answers to frequently asked questions about the proposed levy, which appears on page 3 of the 2012 General Election ballot.
Why does Akron need this extra money?
APS anticipates $15.4 million less in federal, state and local revenue dollars next year alone. Property tax collections are also dropping. With those factors in mind, the district anticipates a deficit of $27 million next year.
What has the district done to cut costs?
APS cut $19 million this year alone by cutting expenses. FY13 cuts by the Board of Education include:
How much money will the levy raise?
We estimate that a 7.9-mill levy will generate approximately $19 million.
How will APS use the money raised by the levy?
The district has proven that it’s on the right path.
APS earned another Continuous Improvement rating from the Ohio Department of Education this year. The ODE’s report card shows that APS is improving in nearly every academic category tested, including reading, science and math. And the district continues to be a leader among Ohio’s largest city school districts in graduation rates. Review the details at: http://tinyurl.com/cy7gm8j.
Money raised by the levy will be used to keep the momentum going and prevent the district from sliding backward. It will support the hiring and retention of quality teachers. It will also maintain appropriate class sizes, rigorous core courses and electives, and updated technology and curriculum.
How can we trust that the money will be used wisely?
APS has been recognized for its lean administration. APS ranked Best-in-Class in an Ohio Education Matters efficiency study which evaluated non-instructional services, including administration, student transportation, food service, building maintenance and operations costs.
Our teachers and staff reduced their salaries and health benefits and are still working hard for our children.
Many APS employees live in Akron. They’ll be paying the extra money, too, and will be front-line watchdogs.
What will happen if the levy fails?
If the levy fails, APS will face a $27 million deficit next year. The district would be forced to lay off hundreds of additional employees, including teachers. More cuts would lead to building closures, bigger class sizes, elimination of more sports and arts programs, reduction in course offerings, outdated curriculum, and more program cuts.
How much will I have to pay?
A 7.9-mill levy will cost the average Akron property owner about $3 per week. Senior citizens are eligible to apply for a Homestead discount, which would reduce the cost to less than $2 a week on average.
To see exactly how much you would pay, use this pending levy tax estimator provided by the Summit County Fiscal Office: http://tinyurl.com/ck6vdhz.
When was the last time APS passed an operating levy?
The community last approved an APS operating levy in 2006.
Why did APS build several new school buildings when it was in financial straits?
The district is in the process of rebuilding or remodeling all of its schools into CLCs (community learning centers.) This project is funded through separate facility funds that are restricted for school construction and renovation only. These funds cannot be used for education, teacher salaries or other operating expenses.
Several years ago, a nationwide report on the condition of school facilities ranked Ohio dead last. Ohio developed the Rebuild Ohio plan to rebuild or renovate Ohio's 612 school districts. More than $10 billion was set aside for the project. This money was part of Ohio's share of a $206 billion national settlement between the tobacco industry and a group of 46 states.
In 2003, Akron received these state funds to rebuild every school in the district. To qualify for the state funds, Akron residents agreed to pay 40 percent of the costs by increasing the city's income tax. People who work in Akron, whether they live in the city or not, pay the tax. Again, these funds are restricted for school construction and renovation only. This project did not use operating levy dollars in Akron. To learn more, go here: http://imagineakronschools.com/content/whatis.htm.
Who will benefit from this levy?
We all will. Engaged students will do better, not only for themselves but also for the community. Issue 61 will help prepare students for college and jobs. More than 80 percent of Ohio’s good, growing jobs require education beyond high school. Our students will grow up, becoming your future neighbors, co-workers and caretakers.
When can I vote?
Voting has already begun. To vote early, you must visit the Summit County Board of Elections. The BOE is located at 470 Grant St. in downtown Akron. Early voting hours are as follows:
To vote from home, download an absentee ballot application here: http://summitcountyboe.com/PDFs/AbsenteeApplication.pdf.
To vote on Election Day, visit your polling place between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Acceptable forms of identification include an Ohio driver's license; state, government or military ID cards; or a copy of a current utility bill. Voters who do not provide one of these documents will still be able to vote by providing the last four digits of their Social Security number and by casting a provisional ballot.
For more information, check with the BOE at 330.643.5200 or www.summitcountyboe.com.
Where do I vote?
The local Board of Elections has drastically reduced the number of precincts in Summit County. Starting with the general election – Tues., Nov. 6, 2012 – many residents will begin voting at a reassigned polling location. The number of countywide precincts dropped from 475 to 298. Make sure you know where to go November 6 by typing your address into this poll finder (http://www.summitcountyboe.com/WebApps/pollfinder.aspx).
For more information: Contact the BOE at 330.643.5200 or visit www.summitcountyboe.com.