Voters may be asked to approve a new property tax levy for Rocky River City Schools in May to pay for operating expenses and maintenance.
School officials are discussing putting a 4.9-mill levy on the ballot that will raise $5 million annually. The school board is expected to make a decision about the levy in January, said District Treasurer Greg Markus.
“This levy will help us keep our current programming in place,” he said. “That includes teachers, staffing and busing.”
The school board is evaluating the district’s five-year financial forecast before it’s finalized at the end of the month. Based on the financial projections for the district, officials will decide whether to ask for a levy next year or hold off until 2022.
The 4.9-mill levy includes 4.65 mills for operating expenses and 0.25 mills for permanent improvements to help pay for maintenance and repairs. More than 82% of the district's revenue comes from property taxes.
The levy would cost about $14.29 more per month, or $171.50 annually per $100,000 in home valuation. If approved in May, the levy would take effect in 2022, Markus said.
If the levy fails, the district will reintroduce it in November for consideration. If it does not pass by the end of next year, the district could cut school programs to make up for the loss.
“The cuts would be based on recommendations made by the superintendent,” Markus said. “It’s safe to say, though, that we’d see cuts at all levels of our district.”
Despite this, some officials are not sure now is the right time to ask for a levy.
“I don’t think people are ready for something like this because of the pandemic and the upheaval we’d face because of it,” said board member Addie Olander.
Rocky River voters last approved a levy in 2017. Before that, the district attempted to pass a 5.9-mill operating levy in May 2012, which failed. The same year officials introduced a 4.9-mill levy that voters approved.
In September, Rocky River High School was named a National Blue Ribbon School along with Holy Trinity School in Avon. Officials attribute that achievement to the programming paid for by levies like the one being considered.
“This is of ultimate importance to our district,” Markus said. “Our schools have garnered national recognition for our programming and student success rate. This levy will help us continue what makes them great.”
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