ELYRIA — Lorain County Joint Vocational School Board member Ayers Ratliff stands alone as the single member opposing the district’s proposed 0.75-mill permanent improvement levy to be on the November ballot.
The levy would help improve the school’s infrastructure.
Superintendent Glenn Faircloth said the improvements are needed. The levy would generate about $4.5 million annually, which would cost a homeowner of a $100,000 house about $26 per year.
The money would be used to upgrade the fire alarm system and curriculum labs, repair the bus garages, add nine zones for the sprinkler system, improve the parking lots and driveways and upgrade the electrical system.
Ratliff said the district is seeking too much money. After the vote, he compiled numbers from the Lorain County Auditor and school districts in the county in regards to permanent improvement levies on the books. All total, he found the districts collect about $8 million — for all of the districts, he said.
Permanent improvement levies cannot be spent on operations or salaries. The money must be used for repairs and purchases of items that will last longer than five years, such as buses and building upgrades.
Ratliff said initially the board was considering a levy with millage of about 0.15, an amount he would have put to the voters for them to consider. But when it came time for a vote, the millage had jumped, he said.
“It’s not needs, it’s wants and greed, that’s what it is, that’s how I describe it,” Ratliff said.
Faircloth said comparing the JVS levy to other districts’ is “not comparing apples to apples,” as those rates vary in communities based on property values and the size of the community.
The school hasn’t approved any additional revenue from residents through a levy like this since 1985. The board approved seeking the 0.75-mill levy May 17.
Faircloth said he hoped voters seriously consider the levy, but he cannot say with certainty it will pass.
“We don’t know, we hope that they support us, they have supported us in the past, we have given them great results, we’re their LCJV district and we belong to the citizens of this county,” he said.
Ratliff and the board and Ratliff and Faircloth have a history of not seeing eye-to-eye.
Ratliff was the only dissenting vote July 20 when the board approved a new contract for Faircloth that included an annual salary raise to $130,000 per year and eligibility for pay raises every year. The five-year contract also gives Faircloth an additional $3,000 per year to cover the cost of educational courses plus $500 for textbooks, supplies and fees. The contract stipulates that if Faircloth doesn’t spend the money on educational coursework, it goes into an annuity.
Ratliff took issue with the contract at a Wellington school board meeting, during which he released contractual details before the JVS board had voted on it. Faircloth then told The Chronicle-Telegram the contract shouldn’t have been released because it had only been seen in executive session and it was not a public document until it is voted on.