YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The Youngstown School Board delayed a decision on whether to place a renewal levy on the November ballot.
The board was told a decision must be made by July 30 to give the Mahoning County Auditor time to prepare the details of the levy. Final papers must be submitted to the board of elections by August 5.
The levy generates $5.2 million a year and expires December 31.
The Youngstown School Board was made powerless by Ohio House Bill 70 but the one thing the law kept with the board was the power to ask for school levies.
At Tuesday evening’s meeting, board member Jackie Adair said she will not vote to place the proposed renewal levy on the ballot this fall.
“Now here you come when you want us to pull your financial fat out of the fire, here you come with your hand out. Get out of my pocket. Enough is enough, that’s where I am.”
The school system is facing a projected $29 million deficit by 2024, which rises to $48 million without the levy renewal.
An issue raised by some board members was the lack of a plan from CEO Justin Jennings on how that deficit would be reduced. They want to know before they commit to the levy.
“He hasn’t given us the inkling of the reductions in staff,” Tin Cvetkovich said. “Where are you going to make these cuts?”
“We need to see a plan that’s going to direct funding toward our children, and toward our teachers and our support systems in the classroom, and he has yet to do that,” said board president Brenda Kimble.
New board member Tiffany Patterson said she was confident with how she planned to vote and questioned how not putting the levy on the ballot helped the students.
Board member Ron Shadd answered that if the CEO provides viable plans, he would support the levy, too.
“He owes our citizens, he owes our taxpayers an explanation on how he’s going to recover the money that was spent frivolously and how he’s going to sustain our school district,” Shadd said.
Jennings was not at Tuesday’s meeting. He declined after receiving a critical letter from Shadd.
The CEO responded with a letter of his own, saying he didn’t want to get into a war of words.
A spokesperson for the CEO said Jennings plans to announce details of the cuts within the next couple of weeks.
The board also passed a memorandum of understanding with Mayor Tito Brown Tuesday, with both sides agreeing the mayor has no authority to elect a new school board until at least January 1, 2023.
A new school board was required under HB70 after four consecutive “F” grades. The process was actually started last year, but put on hold pending the Supreme Court decision on HB70, which the court upheld.
The next school board meeting is June 24.