NORTH CANTON School district officials must now regroup after voters in North Canton sent a resounding no to the levy placed on the ballot on Nov. 7. According to unofficial vote counts the issue failed with 68.39 percent voting no and 31.61 percent voting yes.
The district was asking voters to pass a 3.99-mill bonded property tax and a 0.75 percent school earned income tax to cover operating expenses and general permanent improvements. Both taxes were presented as one vote. If passed, they would have funded the renovation of the 21-year-old Hoover High School and the building of a new middle school and two new elementary schools.
It would have generated $5.87 million per year for operating expenses as well general improvements. With the failed issue, Superintendent Jeff Wendorf said the district will have to come up with a financial plan that will reduce expenditures by and additional two million dollars.
"We are disappointed in the outcome, we’ve already reduced the budget by $1.5 million in 2016-17 and $300,000 for the 2017-18 school year, but will need to reduce expenditures by another $2 million for the 2018-19 school year," Wendorf said.
He said some of the reductions could come as soon as the next semester or later in the spring or summer. Wendorf added the district will work with a finance committee to determine what the next steps are for another levy request. He said May would be the next time the district could ask voters for another levy.
"The committee would determine if the district should ask again for a levy for building plans, or if the district should ask for a levy for operating expenses only or both. We’ll make the reduction in expenditures and then go back to the community to see what they will support," Wendorf said. "This is a great school district and community, we need to come together to see what level of services the community is willing to support."
New Board of Education Members
Voters also sent three new people to the Board of Education as incumbent and Board President Bruce Hunt was not re-elected. Board members Nancy Marion and Julie Mathie-Cross chose not to seek another term.
Starting in January, Robert Roden, Jessica Stroia and Andria Ziarko will join the board.
Robert P. Roden, age 72, of Huntshire Avenue NW, is a retired teacher, principal and superintendent of North Canton City Schools and was an associate superintendent at Canton City Schools and Stark County Educational Service Center. Has a doctorate in education and an Ed.D and a master’s degree from the University of Akron and a bachelor’s degree from Walsh University.
Roden has lived in North Canton for 50 years. He and his wife Bonnie have five children and 17 grandchildren. All of his children, Ed, Patti, Dennis, Kevin and Kimberly graduated from Hoover High School.
He said he’s excited to be on the board and to be in a position to serve the students in the district. Roden said the biggest challenges right now are finances and the aging buildings.
"Since Issue 44 didn’t pass, the administration, board, parents and community are faced with the need to cut $2 million from the budget," Roden said. "The good news is we have an experienced superintendent who continues to work toward restoring trust within the staff and community."
He added that the "task before us is formidable but the district has always united to secure a positive future for our children."
Roden believes the levy proposal was a sound solution. As a former superintendent, he thought the school earned income tax option provided "a fair and consistent revenue stream."
"The tax represented a significant change, and many were confused by it. Plus, there was a well-funded and professionally executed "NO" campaign and combined with a negative editorial from "The Repository" it worked against the pro-levy committee’s momentum," he added.
Roden said the needs aren’t going to disappear and the administration will need to meet with parents and community leaders for feedback and input for other workable proposals to resolve both the financial and the facility issues facing the district.
"This is an extraordinary district with numerous strengths on which to build and has consistently overcome challenges," Roden said.
Jessica Stroia, age 27, of Portage Street Northwest, is an administrative assistant for 415 Group accounting group. Has served on the North Canton Charter Review Commission and is a member of the Zoning and Building Board of Appeals. She is a graduate of Hoover High School and attended Malone University for organizational management.
She is married to her husband, Matthew, and they have a six-year-old son, Aiden, who attends Clearmount Elementary. She said both her and husband grew up in North Canton and attended the district.
"There is always room for improvement and I want to work to improve the district’s transparency and communications so that anyone from the community can feel comfortable approaching board members on any topic related to the district," Stroia said.
"In terms of the levy, I have no doubt that we can put together a levy the community will support. One step is to hold more town hall meetings to further explore what the community wants to support in terms of a school levy," she added.
Andrea Ziarko, age 41, of Wedgefield Court, has been an attorney at Baker, Dublikar, Beck, Wiley & Matthews since 2001. She graduated from Hoover High School, has a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University, J.D. from The Ohio State University and went to the Moritz College of Law. Ziarko has more than 16 years of legal service to the community and has been a board member of several local boards and committees.
She is married to her husband, Mike, who also graduated Hoover High School. They have three children, Brock (14), Drew (11) and Jack (9).
"I’m excited to be have been elected, I ran to get involved and support the students in the district," Ziarko said. "As a mother with three kids attending the district I wanted to be more involved and as an attorney, I thought I could be helpful. I’m disappointed the levy failed. I’m hopeful and optimistic we can get the community together to determine what they would support."
North Canton city officials
Unofficial vote counts show other results in North Canton include the re-election of Mayor David J. Held. Council at-large elected include incumbents Mark Cerreta and Marcia Kieslilng and the election of Daryl L. Revoldt.
Douglas V. Foltz was elected for Ward 1, Daniel Jeff Peters, Ward 2, Stephanie Werren, Ward 3 and Dominic Fonte Ward 4. All of the charter issues passed.
Both Issues 16 and 17 North Canton local option Ward 3, Precinct A: Sale of beer, wine, and mixed beverages and spirituous liquor for Pav’s Creamery and Sunday sales passed.