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Lorain Schools won't put renewal levy on ballot

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LORAIN — The Lorain school board is not putting a $3.1 million renewal levy on the ballot in November.

At a school board meeting Monday night, the body tabled a resolution from Treasurer Josh Hill to put the levy, which expires at the end of 2019, before voters.

“I think we have all expressed that this just isn’t something we can do right now,” board member Tim Williams said. “We’ve gotten feedback from people in the community, and I just don’t think the environment is healthy enough right now for us to put something like this out in front of people.”

Williams made the initial motion to table the resolution and said there’s still just too much “unknown” about the district’s finances and if the board is going to put a levy on the ballot, they want to make sure it has a chance of passing and members don’t think it does right now.

Placing a levy before voters and making decisions about property tax abatements are the only two powers left to the school board after the district officially was taken over last summer through the provisions in state House Bill 70, which placed a virtually all-powerful CEO, David Hardy, in charge of the district.

Hardy and the board have been sparring in recent months about whether the board should put the renewal levy on the ballot, with board members feeling they aren’t getting the full picture of Hardy’s spending to make an informed decision.

However, last week Hardy went so far as to pen a letter to members of the community asking them to encourage the board to approve a levy going on the November ballot because not doing so would be “unfair” and an “injustice.”

“I truly believe that in their hearts, they too see the significance of making sure our scholars — our future — maintain the support of leaders, teachers, materials and experiences that will help them reach their goals in life,” he said.

“Without the school board’s support to put the levy on the ballot, the future of our district and the progress we have made is in jeopardy.”

School board president Tony Dimacchia said the resolution came down from the school district’s administration through Hill, who also serves as the chief strategy and innovation officer for the district, and not from the board itself.

“This isn’t something we put on our agenda, and when we want to discuss it we will,” Dimacchia said. “It just shows what a great disconnect there is along with a lack of trust. Right now we’re confident that if we put this to the voters it wouldn’t pass.”

Dimacchia echoed a letter school board vice president Mark Ballard wrote last month.

“If (Hardy) were to resign, I would put that levy out into the community in a hurry,” he said.

Contact Katie Nix at 440-329-7129 or knix@chroniclet.com. Find her on Facebook and Twitter @KatieHNix.


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