Tuesday, April 24, 2018



See APPENDIX for additional updates





What follows is a SCPR video of the Stark County commissioners this past Wednesday acknowledging a Stark County Board of Elections report of the "estimated" cost of a "special" election in August as being about $340,800.

Who wants another tax?

You know, I know and everybody knows the answer to that rhetorical question.

Nobody!  Absolutely nobody!!

But sometimes communities get put between "a rock and a hard place" and have to initiate what nobody wants.

With the occurrence of the Parkland, Florida Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting of February 14, 2018 and the killing of 17 student/faculty school community members, states including Ohio started scrambling to get their collective acts together in put resources into pre-K through 12 public schools so as to be prepared for future attacks.

In Ohio, the scrambling took place in HB 24.

The bill had been introduced in the Ohio House on February 1, 2017 as a measure to deal with "veterans organization property exemption" where it languished until guess when?

You've got it!

February 28, 2018.

Apparently, almost immediately after the tragic Parkland shooting hit the media airwaves, Ohio General Assembly leaders decided that the quickest way for the Ohio Legislature to get in gear on school security was to amend HB 24 and rush it through to passage which occured on March 21 (less than 30 days, mind you) and immediately signed by Governor Kasich.

In the legislation, the OGA designated Ohio's educational service centers to be the authorized entity of Ohio political subdivision government to be a collecting point and vehicle for public school districts to quickly marshal themselves into a collaborative mode so as to present to voters a plan to beef up security/mental health resources in Ohio schools.

So from early March on, educational service centers were on notice that they were going to be the means by which Ohio government preferred to coordinate the financing of and implementation of upgraded school security and mental health resources.

On April 2, 2018, the Stark County Educational Service Center (SCESC) superintendent Joe Chaddock presented to the board a resolution approving a 1.49 mill levy in "participating" local school districts for their consideration as the first step in a three step process as a prelude to place a school security/mental health resource levy on the ballot, to wit:

The second step of the SCESC is to accept this coming Thursday (April 19) the districts within its jurisdiction which have passed resolutions at the local board level to participate in the proposed 1.49 mill levy effort. (Note:  data in the following charts provided by the Stark County auditor's office. Some titling has been changed by the SCPR to make the charts more readable)

The SCESC board is expected to actually vote to put the levy on the ballot at an April 25th meeting.

There was some discord at the SCESC meeting of April 2nd centered about whether the proposed levy would be continuing or for a term of years somewhat like the Stark County Justice System Sales Tax (JSST) 1/2 cent levy which was originally pass about eight years ago and renewed last year.

SCESC board members James Holmes (a former Perry Township trustee), Barbara Morgan (wife of former and now deceased SCESC superintendent Larry Morgan), Fran Miller (newly elected to replace retired member Jack Sickafoose in November, 2017) and Mary Olson voted 3 to 1 (Miller dissenting) to make the levy a continuing levy meaning that there is no expiration date.

Miller was adamantly opposed to the "continuing" nature of the levy.  Holmes, the SCPR is told, waffled on the matter but Morgan and Olson were persuaded that a continuing levy was the way to go.

 In the end, Holmes ultimately joined Morgan and Olson to form the 3 to 1 vote.  

Member Gene Feucht (a former Perry Local superintendent), president of the SCESC was absent in that he was out-of-town.  He is slated to be back for Thursday's meeting.

Why a continuing levy?

Because, as the SCPR understands the matter, Chaddock conveyed persuasively a majority of the SCESC  board members present and voting that "continuing" was the consensus of local district school officials.

A big negative for many local school district officials seems to be an "unending" cycle of working levy/bond issues with the district's taxpayers which is certainly understandable.

However, from the perspective of others, periodic accountability (every 5/8/10 years) on how efficiently and effectively levy money is spent is a higher priority than the inconvenience on school administrators having to work all too often on levy renewal efforts.

The SCPR has discussed with some interested parties reasons why there are those among Stark County's local districts who object to the 1.49 mill levy.

First and foremost seems to be the "continuing" nature of the proposed levy.

Another reason given was the fact as in the case of Canton Local (aka Canton South) is that a district is a "donor" district in the context of the districts taxpayers paying more collectively than the district takes in distribution of levy proceeds.

Yet another opposition to the levy factor by a local school board member was dissatisfaction in the relationship between that member's board and legal counsel for for the SCESC.  

As recited above, the SCESC had less than 30 days to work with local school districts on implementing the provisions of HB 24.  One local school district official complained about the "rush" by the SCESC to put a levy on.

Well, let's see.  Is the public really going to want to hear it that "we had to take time to get "everybody on-board" should a tragic school shooting happen in the SCESC area of responsibility with no school security/mental health plan in process or in place?

Time is of the essence when it comes the safety of our children!

Media reports put the Perry School District in the camp of those districts whose officials worry about "wearing out the public patience/tolerance" with seeming school levy after school levy after school levy being presented across the state of Ohio, including, of course Stark County.

Perry has May 8th 11.7 mill levy 5 year renewal issue on the ballot.

Perry school officials are concerned that the SCESC contemplated 1.49 mill levy for August being in the offing should Perry have agreed to join the SCESC facilitated effort could cause problems with its May 8th renewal try.

Unfortunately, voter-burn-out on tax issues is a reality that all public officials worry about.  

If the levy passes across the 17 "participating locals" district-wide financing district, then, even if a given district (let's say the Lake Local School District), were to have a majority vote "no" within the local district, residents would still have to pay the 1.49 mill levy.

As levies go 1.49 mills is very, very, very inexpensive.  About $50 a year, more or less, on a $100,000 home; about $100, more or less, annually on a $200,000 residence.

A small price to pay for better school security and mental health resources, no?

There are two interesting case studies among Stark County-based school districts that take positions that are obviously contra-indicated in terms of how much the districts' taxpayers will contributed as contrasted to what the districts will receive as a distribution if the 1.4 mill levy passes across the 17 districts participating in the levy.

Get this.

Jackson (a participant in the levy effort, a well funded district which could undoubtedly afford to go on its own on security/mental health) only gets 63 cents (rounded off) on a dollar of taxes paid in whereas Canton City Schools (a non-participant and a financially strapped district) get $2.23 return on each tax dollar.

One CCS official tells the SCPR that the board of education is getting feedback that Canton being part of the proposed levy initiative is an example of "taxation without representation" in that city schools do not vote on filling SCESC board positions and residents of city school district cannot run for those slots.

The SCPR agrees with the Canton official that such a structure makes no sense and needs to be corrected by the Ohio General Assembly.

Canton does have its own security system in place (LINK) and The Report is told that Canton is already doing what is proposed to be done should the 1.49 mill levy pass.

But Golly-Gee getting a better than $1 million return on participating in the levy could free up dollars already being spent on security/mental health "purely for education" programs?  Canton schools are documented by the Ohio Department of Education as being among the lowest ranked academic achieving institutions in all of Stark County) programs, no?

Wow!  What is in the water in Canton?

On the other hand, how magnanimous on Jackson's part!

Kudos also goes to the non-Stark County school districts in the SCESC area none of which "profit" in participating in the 1.49 mill levy, to wit;

Impressive, no?

The SCPR is all for public school district choice.

But who would want to be a board member or superintendent in a district which "God Forbid" has a shooting incident in one of its schools and students die and/or are injured if they do not have an "effective" school security/mental health resource plan in place?

The only real choice that the SCESC has is between presenting the measure to the voting public as a continuing levy or a 5/8/10 year levy subject to renewal.

Putting the matter to the public to decide is a no-brainer.

For if the SCESC does not act in terms of at least trying a levy and the worst happens in one of its serviced school districts, who would want to be a SCESC board member?

If the voting public rejects the attempt, then they are left with what school districts can do given current finances in a particular district.

It will be interesting to see whether or not, by the end of the three step process, the SCESC sticks with its present posture of the levy making the ballot as a continuing levy.



UPDATE:  TODAY (04/24/2018) 08:15 AM


Holly Pierpont  Today at 7:32 AM

To: tramols@att.net


In your research regarding how much districts will pay in vs receive back for the pending 1.49mill the SCESC wants to impose have you any data that shows the ROI for NCCS?

(SCPR Note:  In the original blog the "city school districts" listings got truncated cutting off the North Canton listing.   The chart has been corrected. North Canton is a "donor" district to the tune of about $75,000)

Given they are facing a 6.99mill property tax on the May ballot, that extra 1.49mill as a permanent tax to vote on just three months later doesn’t seem so minimal....






Daniel Fonte   Today at 11:56 AM
To:  Martin Olson

Good morning Martin,

I would like to give you my take on the proposed school levy to fund safety improvements and mental health issues on the ballot. 

I believe the Stark E.S.C. jumped the gun on this without doing enough research and gathering public input on this levy. 

Is this a problem exclusively to Stark County? I think not. This is a State or, better yet, a National issue. The State Legislature was quick to pass legislation to let local boards put levies on the ballot to tax local homeowners to address this when they should have given the money back to the local school districts that they had taken away in the first place. 

The State Legislature has deprived for years all local areas of government whether it is cities, counties, villages or school districts of funding that they need to operate on. In fact, all the local entities should organize and call them out for what they have done to local communities.

I for one will not vote for a levy that is never ending. They need to take into consideration the effect this will have on senior citizens. The biggest asset they own is their home and we are being taxed right out of them. 

Remember, Stark County is growing older and poorer.

Dan Fonte

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