NORTH RIDGEVILLE - The North Ridgeville school board is going back to voters to get their approval for an 11.72-mill operating levy.

But the issue on the ballot March 17 will be slightly different from the one voters defeated Nov. 5. The board changed the term. Instead of asking voters to approve a continuing levy, which would never expire, the board limited its length to 10 years.

The board voted unanimously Dec. 11 to put the tax issue on the ballot. It would not raise taxes; it combines four existing levies into one. The money is used for operating expenses.

"After November’s election results, we listened to the community’s concerns about the duration of the issue," Superintendent Roxanne Ramsey-Caserio said. "The issue will stabilize our funding, allowing us to focus on future growth while remaining an innovative district."

Besides defeating the 11.72-mill continuing levy, voters on Nov. 5 rejected a bond issue, which would have raised up to $136.5 million to build a new high school, a new elementary school and a performing arts center in the fast-growing city.

School officials were expected to submit the levy request to the Lorain County Board of Elections last week, in time for the Dec. 17 filing deadline for the March 17 ballot. When to place the bond issue on the ballot again will be considered later.

The substitute tax levy will collect $10,600 annually beginning in 2021. It combines four levies that are set to expire – two in 2020, and one each in 2022 and 2023. These four voter-approved emergency levies bring in 40% of the district’s local funding. Combining the issues will eliminate expensive and time-consuming campaigns to keep funding that in most cases has been on the district’s books for decades, including from a levy first approved in 1975.

If the replacement levy fails in March, the district stands to lose $4.6 million a year beginning in 2021.

"This substitute levy is a critical issue for our school district," school board President Kelly McCarthy said. "We know our community values the quality education and educators in our schools.

"The passage of this levy sets us on the right course for maintaining our educational programs and our staffing."

Contact this reporter at msakal@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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