Separating two issues was the charm for voters in the Beachwood School District, who passed Issue 2 on Nov. 6, 3,558 votes (59.3 percent) to 2,442 votes (40.7 percent).
Beachwood voters rejected a combined 8.7-mill package by five votes in May that included both the levy for the operating budget and a school bond that would have paved the way for the demolition of Bryden and Hilltop, Beachwood’s elementary schools, and expanded the Fairmount Early Childhood Center to include a new elementary school.
After that defeat, Superintendent Robert P. Hardis recommended, and the school board approved, going back to voters to request funding for school operations.
On Nov. 6, Beachwood schools sought and received a 5.9-mill operating levy that would raise an estimated $4.3 million to help offset a forecast deficit of
$4.6 million in the current operating budget.
Hardis said Nov. 7 he feels grateful to Beachwood voters, whom he called savvy.
There is no immediate impact to the Beachwood schools’ budget based on the passage of the operating levy, Hardis said, and no plans to restore funding to areas that were cut.
“As the year progresses,” he said, “it is our intent to maintain the budget that we started the year with.”
Hardis said the widespread but small budget cuts to the current school operating budget guaranteed that no one area was affected deeply. Any potential additions to the budget, he said, would be tested on their merits.
Homeowners will be assessed an additional $413 for every $200,000 of market valuation.
The levy will mean that Beachwood schools will not need to go to voters for additional operating funds for the next four to five years, as the schools face current and anticipated state funding cuts, Hardis said.
He also said there is no anticipated discussion of what to do with city’s aging elementary schools.
“We promised the community that everything to do with our aging elementary schools was on hold, and that they are on hold indefinitely,” Hardis said.
A local political action committee, Low Tax Citizens, opposed the levy.
Mikhail V. Alterman, assistant treasurer and spokesman of the group, said, “The battle will continue despite the negative coverage of the Cleveland Jewish News. It’s not over.”
The Beachwood schools’ operating budget for the current fiscal year stands at $34,774,816.
Beachwood schools have an enrollment of 1,637 students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade with a staff of 300.