SUN NEWS | MAY 4, 2011 | SUSAN KETCHUM
That is how Superintendent Jeffrey Graham described the passage of the Parma school levy May 3. In final but unofficial results, Issue 7, the 6.9 mill, 10-year operating levy, passed May 3 by a vote of 14,407 for the levy, or 50.4 percent, to 14,165 against, or 49.6 percent. The levy will cost homeowners about $18 a month for every $100,000 of home valuation.
“I am not surprised, but I am pleased. We were competing with the economy and high gas prices, but the voters came through for us,” a jubilant Graham said after learning of the win. “The passage of the levy will give us enough funds to educate our kids for the 21st century, while maintaining control of the district.”
The victory came after seven previous defeats. Graham thanked the levy committee, and said the campaign was “truly a group effort that included parent, staff, student, business and community volunteers.”
Even with the new money, the board and administration will still need to cut an additional $4 million from the budget, Graham said. The district has already cut $18 million, frozen benefits and salaries, and laid off staff.
A contract approved last month included concessions from the Parma Education Association that will save $9 million, and a contract with support staff is pending. In addition, a plan to consolidate schools that would save the district $13.8 million a year awaits board approval.
“We are in the process of recreating a school district. We’re in a great place,” Graham said. “Tradition and pride came shining through as the voters made a decision to keep the Parma city schools alive for the future. We are grateful for the support and will continue to do everything we can to earn the voters trust.”
Board President Leo Palaibis also thanked the voters of Parma, Parma Heights and Seven Hills for their show of faith.
“Our students are the winners here, as this money will allow us to offer them the educational opportunities they need to be able to compete and become successful in college and the working world,” he said. “The emphasis being placed on fiscal responsibility and accountability is ringing true with the community. We will continue to work toward becoming more efficient in our operations, while always remaining responsive to the needs of our students.”