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Akron school board takes step toward putting levy, bond issue on the November ballot

 Akron Public Schools headquarters in Downtown Akron.
Ryan Loew
Ideastream Public Media
Akron Public Schools headquarters in Downtown Akron. The board of education has decided to to to voters for approval of new operating money for the district.

Akron voters should expect to see a school levy on the ballot this November after the board of education voted Tuesday to approve a resolution of "necessity," outlining the need for a levy. The board will still need to take a final vote in June to officially put it on the ballot.

The district last week approved cutting 285 jobs, including dozens of teacher positions, after the administration said it took a hard look at its finances. Board Chair Diana Autry said Tuesday that was the district and board's way of showing they're trying to cut costs to be responsible stewards of taxpayer money. The district is grappling with how to "right-size" its operations after years of enrollment declines.

"The district in my eyes, has done its diligence in first looking at home and doing the necessary tightening of the belt here," she said. "We've looked at our five year forecast and we've seen the challenges that we are facing. We see that our state funding is projected to be decreased for many reasons, including decreased enrollment, including a lower share (of funding) for our disadvantaged students. We also are aware that we have well deserved raises that we need to pay out. But most importantly, as I've stated time and time again since I've been in this seat, is the children."

The district says the lion’s share of the levy will go to fund operations, while a small portion will pay for a bond to build a new North High School. It will appear as one issue on the ballot. The district's administration has said they will seek 7.6 mills for general operations and 1.3 mills for the bond issue. That would cost somebody who owns a property assessed at $100,000 roughly $310 per year in additional taxes.

Conor Morris is the education reporter for Ideastream Public Media.