Willoughby-Eastlake Officials, Parents Discuss Changes After Failed Levy

Krissy Klouda speaks to a room full of people in the Willoughby-Eastlake school district.
Krissy Klouda spoke to a room packed with parents and employees about the district's plans following the levy's failure. [Taylor Haggerty / WCPN]
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After a tax levy failed in this month’s elections, Willoughby-Eastlake school officials are asking parents for input on how to proceed. Parents had an opportunity Thursday night to ask questions, while board members collected feedback on what parents feel is necessary to keep.

District officials asked for advice on increasing voter turnout, dispelling misinformation about levies and saving programs on the chopping block. Without the levy, the district is considerng extensive cuts to busing and to programs including foreign language, drama and drug education. Middle school and freshman athletics are also facing elimination.

Angela Cooper is a parent in the district. She said she’s concerned about safety, including the loss of a student resource officer and crossing guards.

“There’s three things that need to happen: A student needs to get to school, they should be safe, and there should be a mental health program,” Cooper said.

Parents are also concerned about transportation. The district has dropped all high school busing, and will only provide transportation for elementary and middle schoolers who live more than two miles from their schools.

While the levy will be back on the ballot again in March, officials said the district is currently relying on five emergency levies that will also need to be renewed in the next few years. The levy that failed last week did not have an expiration date.

Parents pushed back against the idea of a continuous levy, asking instead for a five to 10 year limit. But levy committee co-chair Krissy Klouda said it costs thousands of dollars to put levies up for a vote every few years, and they’re already spending that renewing the five emergency levies in place.

“We’re getting voter fatigue. We’re going to be on the ballot 17 times in the next 20 years," Klouda said. "People don’t want to vote for the schools anymore, you just get to that point."

Klouda said school funding is difficult to understand, and the meetings are meant to clear up confusion. Board members gave a presentation on the current budget and the forecast for the next five years, and they were available to answer questions.

At the end of the meeting, parents looked over a list of proposed cuts, including a resource officer and crossing guards. They discussed what was important to keep. But for each item kept, they had to choose something else to cut.

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