Voters turn down emergency funds for Southeast

Sean Joseph

Voters rejected Southeast Local School Districts levy, 54-46 percent, for emergency funds last night in a special election.

“We’re really very disappointed, but we made improvement,” said Linda Fuline, the district’s superintendent. “I’d like to thank all the volunteers for their efforts, and we’ll be back in May.”

Fuline said the school board will meet on Thursday, and she expects they will vote to put the same 8.9-mill levy on the ballot in May. The Southeast levy has failed five straight times, but the favorable votes increased last night.

In November, almost 60 percent of voters turned it down.

“We’re going to continue to get the message out,” Fuline said. “We’re proud of our gains, and we’ll keep working until it passes.”

But if it doesn’t pass in May, the district, already under “fiscal caution” by the Ohio Department of Education, has already voted to cut $1.2 million from next year’s budget, District Treasurer Paul Wulff said.

The “fiscal caution” status could be elevated to “fiscal watch” and then “fiscal emergency” if their financial situation does not improve, yielding financial responsibility of the district to the state.

The district, which recently eliminated four full-time employees and one part-time employee Jan. 23, is facing more cuts, Wulff said. Bussing would be taken to the state minimum – meaning only students in kindergarten through eighth grade, living more than two miles from their school, will be able to ride the bus. They will also have to make students pay 100 percent of the cost for extracurricular activities.

The district, which has 2,200 students and three buildings, has not received new money from taxes since 1996, Wulff said.

“This is a bare-bones levy; there are no frills in this thing,” Wulff said before the election. “It’s important to keep our heads above water because of state legislators who obviously don’t care about public education.”

Educating the community, which Fuline said she thought would be the difference in yesterday’s election, will continue in the district. They will continue to have public forums every Monday.

Contact public affairs reporter Sean Joseph at [email protected].