News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Akron General

Area Agency on Aging 10B, Inc.

Lehmans


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Education


Medina schools try to regain the faith and pass a levy
Despite disputes and lawsuits, Medina officials think they can make a case that they've learned their lessons, value transparency and need the money to help kids.
Story by GRACE MURRAY AND M.L. SCHULTZE


 
Karla Robinson says transparency is key to regaining voters' trust.
Courtesy of M.L. SCHULTZE
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

This spring, Medina City school board members recognized what they saw as the inevitable. Given a special audit, lawsuits and ongoing controversies, getting voters to approve a new levy was just not likely to happen.  So, they yanked the levy off the ballot a few weeks before the May election.

Now they’re making another run at a new tax issue.

LISTEN: Medina and transparency

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (4:37)


Earlier this month, the Medina school board voted unanimously to put a five-year emergency levy on the November ballot.

The school board says its kids need the roughly $6.6 million the levy will raise – and can and will show the community why.

School board President Karla Robinson says the district is focusing on transparency.

"We are being extremely fiscally conservative with our funds and we will be demonstrating that with real numbers in the near future too. While there are still folks concerned about trusting us with these dollars, what the board is concerned about is demonstrating to the community, showing the community, here’s what we’re going to do with these dollars, and hold us to it.

Trying to overcome doubts and history
But Robinson acknowledges recent history may leave some in the community skeptical.

Some board members have resigned.  But this is still the entity that approved an $83,000 signing bonus for Superintendent Randy Stepp, along with paying some $250,000 toward his college loans and degrees. The board says it didn’t know how much it was paying. And at least one of the contracts was approved during a meeting the board itself now says violated Ohio’s sunshine law.

After the expenses became public, the board suspended Stepp and called for a special audit. Stepp has sued the board members and they have countersued.

All of which is fodder for blogs, media coverage and talk around the town square. But none of it, says Robinson changes the fact that the district needs the levy.

“If you fail this levy, community, this is what the district is going to look like. It’s going to change because our budgetary realities are pretty stark.”

State cuts and other hurtles
The levy would be offset state budget cuts totaling $1.8 million per year. It would fund reading intervention specialists, gifted education, busing and high school and middle school electives such as music, art and gym.

At least one resident sees the merits of the argument. Ray Gordon is concerned about what cuts are doing to his children’s education.

"The middle school students, of which I have two, no longer even have classes available to them to fill their whole day, so they have a number of study halls. I think the typical average is about three study halls a day. And they’re actually turned loose, if you will, around 1:30, 2 o’clock in the afternoon. So where in the past they had a place to be and some direction that direction is no longer there for them.

Gordon says the current state of the district is nothing like what it was when he was a Medina Bee – something that school administrators acknowledge.

Two superintendents
School board President Robinson says over the last several years, the district has cut more than 100 teachers, 80 support staff, 10 administrators and numerous programs and services for students.

In addition, it’s now paying for two superintendents. Stepp is on paid leave following his suspension, and Interim Superintendent Dave Knight is charging a discounted rate of $30-an-hour to take over for the time being.

Stepp’s paid leave will continue until the district gets results from the state audit – results the community has been waiting on for months.

No time to wait
Knight who was the retired principal at one of Medina’s elementary schools before the board asked him to fill in as superintendent. He acknowledges that the controversy makes it difficult to pass a levy. But he says the district can’t afford to wait. And, he says, there’s never an easy time to pass a levy.

If I had a little second grader anxious to meet his new teacher this fall, and we turned to him and said ‘Oh, let’s wait awhile. You can be patient. Wait until third grade. Wait until our community is ready because we have a distraction.’ You know what? There will always be a distraction. We need to move that distraction to the side and say ‘You are valuable to us, and we want to give you the help you need now.’”

Both Knight and Robinson say they are hoping community members can move past the disputes and focus on the children.

And parent Gordon says there isn’t any place left to go but forward -- an attitude that he’s seen displayed by other parents within the district.

"What I’m seeing is there’s certainly some trepidation, but there’s more optimism than I’ve ever seen in this community in my 35 years of living here."

School board members hope other voters share that optimism on Nov. 5, when they’ll have decide what happens to the 5.9 mill levy.

(Click image for larger view.)


Related WKSU Stories

Controversy, spending and contracts diminish chances for Medina's levy
Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook



Stories with Recent Comments

U.S. Postal Service plans to close its sorting center in Akron
May as well close the center. I don't understand why they didn't do away with saturday mail a long time ago. We don't get our mail until sometimes 8pm, and in ...

The postal workers union is challenging mail-sorting closures in Ohio
Do not close the akron facilaty for mail processing. This will severly deminish mail service to the northeast ohio area, Cleveland can not handle this burden.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park OK's sharpshooters to thin deer herds
In this article you mention that the Mule Deer Foundation is a "hunting group" in reality the Mule Deer Foundation is a conservation group that is over 25 years...

Clarence Bozeman: In the driver's seat of history
I believe he was a teacher of mine as James Ford Rhodes. My favorite teacher of all time! Loved learning this part of his amazing history.

Cleveland RTA is moving Public Square bus stops beginning this week
I am very confused. Why are you taking one or more of the park and ride 246 out of service in the morning. I looking over the new schedule I see that there ar...

Canton school board will vote Wednesday on its high school merger
Great to see that THE REPOSITORY is advising a 'no' vote for now! Another point, besides all the Very accurate points already made against this move is the fac...

Some parents opting their students out of Common Core test
I am an 8th grader at a school in Allen County. I have just recently taken the ELA performance based assessment and found it extremely difficult. It asked me a ...

Fallout from the Ohio Supreme Court Munroe Falls ruling
The comment by Nathan Johnson from OEC is confusing. Instead of cities being 'emboldened' to craft zoning laws that were just stricken down by this ruling, comm...

Stopping sediment dumping in Lake Erie
Ah, yes, the Army Coro of Engineers, the geniuses that designed the levee system in New Orleans that has made the flooding worse due to no sediment reaching the...

Ohio charter school critic says reform bills are a good step
The cold truth is that these charter schools are offering services beyond the what the state tests can guage. Parents and students have a choice and they are ch...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University