ASHTABULA — Voters in the Ashtabula Area City School District voted down a new 3.8-mill levy at Tuesday’s primary election.
The levy failed by 188 votes — 1,220 against and 1,032 for the levy, according to the unofficial results from the Ashtabula County Board of Elections.
The levy would’ve generated about $1.7 million a year for essential day-to-day operation of the schools and cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 about $11 a month, according to Mark Astorino, district treasurer and chief financial officer.
The levy was a necessity for the district because of a $2.6 million budget shortfall, Astorino said.
School Board President Christine Seuffert said it’s been 21 years and no new tax dollars.
“The loss is unfortunate as we face a very unstable state funding and little hope of funding reform on the horizon,” she said. “As to whether we will go on the ballot again, that is a school board decision advised by the chief financial officer and the superintendent.”
The board of education has reduced the bond levy millage from 7 mills to 5 mills due to refinancing in 2013 and 2018. The board also refinanced its bond debt to take advantage of low interest rates. This will save taxpayers up to $2.1 million over the duration of the bonds.
Local taxpayer support covers only about 20 percent of AACS revenue. State funding accounts for 67 percent of revenue and has declined over the last several years and decades, and it will likely continue to decline, Astorino said.
Now that the levy failed, Astorino said, the district will have to make cuts immediately. He said this will mean larger class sizes, loss of excellent teachers and support staff and cutbacks or elimination of support services and extra-curricular activities.