Consolidation Discussion and Facts
Recently the Mayor of Middlefield Village has presented publicly that the Cardinal Local School District should be taking the proper measures to consolidate with the Berkshire Local Schools. It is important to understand some FACTS that have not been presented that represent why the Cardinal Local Board of Education and administration are NOT seeking to consolidate at this time.
In May 2017, the school district voters passed a 5.5 mill new money levy and then again in November 2017 the school district voters supported the renewal levy. In April 2018 the district placed a 5 million dollar bond for the purpose of updating and upgrading the district’s facilities. (Bond Money vs. Levy Money) In October 2018 the district submitted the required Five-Year Forecast to the Ohio Department of Education. This document indicates that the district is fiscally solvent and able to operate over the next 5 years.
Enrollment Trend Data
The following represents enrollments from all Geauga County Districts. Declining enrollment is not exclusive to Cardinal Schools. All schools in Northeast Ohio have seen a decline in enrollment except for increased numbers for Berkshire who absorbed Ledgemont. In addition to the public schools in Geauga, Kent State University (Geauga) has also seen a decline.
$Money$ Required to Consolidate
In a meeting with the Geauga County ESC Superintendent and the Mayor it was stated that Cardinal Schools would need to come to the table with approximately 15 – 20 million dollars if we chose to consolidate with Berkshire. These dollars would be needed to expand the construction of the Berkshire facility which can only hold their 1300 students.
In an article from the December 13, 2018 Maple Leaf, Berkshire Superintendent John Stoddard said for Newbury to merge with Berkshire, they “must bring sufficient cash to accommodate the additional square footage for the construction of the school.” It is estimated that the figure for Newbury to participate in expanding the Berkshire building plan is approximately $4.5 million. In the same article, Stoddard also said for the two schools to merge, the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission must approve the merger because it would change the current plans for the new school. Stoddard said Newbury would also have to “right size” (another term for reduce) its staff to meet Berkshire staffing ratios. The same stipulations would be in place for Cardinal to merge as well. On January 8, 2019 Newbury schools announced they would consolidate through territory transfer with West Geauga Schools.
Timeframe for Consolidation
Consolidation is NOT something that takes place “overnight.” There is Ohio Revised Code (law) that must be followed. Since the Board of Education is not pursuing consolidation there are two options that can be considered: RC 3311.22 and RC 3311.24
Earned Income Tax Impact
Cardinal residents would pay a 1% income tax levied by Berkshire Schools in addition to the 1.25% earned income tax in Middlefield Village for a total of 2.25%. This is an earned income tax, meaning that all earners in a household would be taxed at 2.25% of what they earn.
This additional tax would calculate in this manner: If you earn $60,000.00/yr at 2.25% your tax will be $1350.00. This tax would be in addition to the necessary Bond and Operating levies that would be required for the territory transfer/consolidation.
The Village of Middlefield has a 1% Village Income Tax through 12/31/2018, one of the lowest rates in Geauga County, in effect since 1978. Beginning 1/1/2019 the Village Income Tax rate will be 1.25%. Persons subject to Village Income Tax include those 18 years of age or older having taxable income whether resident or non-resident and business entities within the Village.
In addition, the Village of Middlefield is working with a $40,000/yr income figure. This was shared at a public meeting of the Economic Development Committee. It is imperative to note that this tax effects EVERY earner in the household and EVERY earner would be paying the extra 1%. Using the Village of Middlefield figures: If your spouse earns $40,000, you would owe ANOTHER $500 per year, if you have children working and living in the household they would also be impacted and have to pay the 1%.
District Naming Rights
In a November 1, 2018 Maple Leaf Article it was written;
” ‘If Cardinal wants to be part of the process of planning a larger school and making other decisions like renaming a consolidated school district, the board needs to make that decision in the next three to four months,’ Garlich said.”
This is a completely false representation of what happens when districts merge or consolidate. If in fact the Cardinal Local School District were to “consolidate” this would happen through what is called a territory transfer. Once a territory transfer is complete the district that is received in a transfer would assume the receiving district name. In this case the Cardinal Huskies would become Berkshire Badgers. There are no naming rights nor will there be a say in planning the facility as that is the duty of the Berkshire Board of Education.