Niles school board asking for more money to avoid cuts

NILES, Ohio (WYTV) – The Niles school board is asking for more money.

In the last year — to get the city out of fiscal emergency — Niles residents have seen increases in water rates, income tax and license plate fees. The city also passed an increase in the park levy.

Now, the Niles Board of Education met late Monday afternoon and voted unanimously to ask for an additional school levy in the November election. If it doesn’t get its money, there could be cuts.

“We haven’t had any new money in 12 years,” said Susan Longacre, school board president. “And of course we’ve had significant funding cuts from Columbus.”

The Niles levy will be for 10 years — 9.25 mills generating $2 million per year. It’ll cost the owner of a home valued at $70,000 an extra $18 dollars per month.

“We have great small-class sizes,” said Ann Marie Thigpen, Niles superintendent. “We feel that, especially in the early grade levels, that’s vitally important.”

The extra money will also go to buying every student an electronic device, updating textbooks and eBooks and continuing with little or no student fees.

Passing a school levy is never easy — and it could be even harder in Niles, considering all of the city’s rate increases and fees within the past year.

“Even though right now there are some tough things going on in the city, it’s time to invest,” said Tony Perrone, school board vice president.

“If it fails, we go the day after election day and we regroup and we’re going to have to make some cuts,” Longacre said. “And we do not want to do that.”

Niles schools have already made some cuts.

Two assistant principal positions have been eliminated, plus charter and private school students are no longer being bused by Niles schools.