Summit County School District eyes Nov. ballot
summit daily news
SUMMIT COUNTY – Just more than half of local voters would support a measure to funnel funds to Summit schools, according to a recent poll by the school district.
Waning revenues in a weak economy have school officials looking to the November ballot box for support. The school district has hired a firm to assess the viability of a mill levy that would generate close to $2 million. The amount of the proposed mill levy would equate to one-third of an existing school district mill levy that will expire this year.
Hill Research Consultants conducted a phone survey of registered likely voters on May 23-25.
Results of the phone poll indicated that 55 percent of the 303 respondents supported the idea of a mill levy, after first hearing draft ballot language. Support rose to 58 percent after participants received more information about how the money would be used. Sixty-six percent of those surveyed said they were familiar with the school district’s budget issues and the cutbacks made earlier this year.
A large majority of respondents (75 percent) said it was “extremely” or “very” important to provide teachers with a living wage. Voters surveyed also favored small class sizes, averting additional budget cuts, preparing students for college and reducing the drop-out rate.
When asked to grade the district on an A-F scale, the majority of respondents gave the district an A or B: 14 percent said A, 37 percent said B, 20 percent said C, 2 percent said D, and 1 percent said F; 25 percent were unsure or refused to answer.
The Summit Board of Education will receive a detailed analysis of the polling results at its June 22 meeting. If the board decides to go ahead with a ballot question, it would vote on ballot language on August 24.
As currently proposed, the mill levy would cost about $40 annually for a home valued at $400,000.
“The way school funding is looking in the state, we want every penny possible to support students and our academic programs,” said district spokeswoman Julie McCluskie.
Earlier this spring, Summit School District cut annual expenditures by $867,000 and froze teacher pay for the 2010-2011 school year. And officials are bracing for even more cuts in the years to come.
Summit Daily News reporter Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-4630
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