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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is an operating levy necessary at this time?

The primary factor that is causing the district to seek an additional operating levy is budget reductions in our state funding over the last two biennial budgets.  Every two years, the legislature adopts a budget to fund all departments funded at a state level.  In general, PK-12 Education has seen significant reductions in funding and Chardon is no exception.  The legislature classified our district as a “wealthy” district with more ability to support education at the local level.

  • A major component of the state budget reductions is the elimination of the Tangible Personal Property Tax - a tax on business equipment and inventory that went to local school districts.  The loss of the TPP payments to Chardon Schools resulted in over $1MM lost annually from our state support.

  • Charter School enrollment continues to impact our budget with an estimated annual cost of $600,000.  These “tuition-free” programs deduct $6,010 per student from the district of residence for each student attending their program.  However, our district only receives approximately $1,270 per student from the state budget.  The difference is made up by our General Fund - and, ultimately, local taxpayers.

  • We are trying to get ahead of a much larger levy request in two years by flattening/shortening the levy cycle.  By asking for only what is necessary to keep the district whole for these state reductions along with a minimal increase in additional operating millage, we will be able to stretch our resources for a longer period of time without significant disruption to programs and services.

What cost containment measures have been instituted since passage of the 2013 operating levy?  

  • The district has made a concerted effort to contain costs in our Food Services Department over the past several years.  As a result, we have seen significant reductions in the amount of General Fund dollars used to support the program while improving the quality of food services for students and staff.  We are currently operating at a level that has reduced General Fund support by over $150,000 per year.

  • The the work of our Maintenance Department, we have installed a new automated control system that has eliminated the need for a contract with an outside company to monitor building heating and ventilation systems.  This resulted in a savings of approximately $50,000 per year.

  • We installed a new telephone system in the district with significantly improved features and access in our schools, while reducing operating expenses by approximately $35,000 per year.

  • We continue to develop instructional programs that return students from placements outside the district to be educated in our own school buildings by Chardon teachers.  In addition to improving service to students, the cost savings for these programs is significant.

  • The district continues to operate an award-winning energy management program that results in significant cost avoidance for ongoing utility expenses.  Since 2013, our overall cost avoidance for utilities is estimated at $xxx,xxx.  The commitment of staff to these savings has played an important role in our ongoing success.

Why don't we cut busing to save the district money? 

 It’s not that simple. Here are some considerations:

Safety: By following state minimums, children (K-8) who live within 2 miles of school will be required to walk to school or get a ride from a parent. Because some of our elementary schools are in rural areas with no sidewalks, this means those children would be walking along high speed roads like Route 6 and Bass Lake Road. Even if all children were transported by parents, the resulting traffic congestion would be unmanageable.  Older students (grades 9-12) would either walk or get a ride, causing added congestion on North Street, Chardon and Maple Avenues and reducing safety for walkers.

The district’s Transportation Department annually reviews transportation routes and plans for the most efficient and cost-effective routing to meet the student transportation needs for the upcoming school year.  We have reduced transportation costs through route consolidation where appropriate resulting in the staffing levels that are appropriate to meet the demands of student transportation for the school district.

If the operating levy fails in November, it is likely that the duration of school bus rides will get longer.

Will the levy money be used for giving the teachers’ raises?

Contract negotiations with our certified and classified staff are completed and we have a new two-year contract through 2019.  It is important that we maintain a competitive salary  to secure the best and most highly-qualified personnel to work with our students and in our school buildings each day.  Our Five-Year Forecast projects modest increases in compensation over the next five years to ensure that we do not lose the strong personnel base that contributes to high student achievement.   

Will money from this operating levy be used to construct new school buildings?

No.  The school district has been actively engaged in developing a facilities master plan and an upgrades of our existing facilities are necessary to meet the needs of today’s educational programs.  However, construction of new schools would not be funded using financial resources form this operating levy.  A separate bond issue would need to be presented to the voters in order for us to proceed with construction.  The earliest this could be considered is 2018 as the filing deadline for 2017 is passed.     


If the operating levy fails, what will be the direct impact on our schools?

Yes.  We will begin immediately in December of 2017 to plan further cuts for implementation starting in the 2018-19 school year.  These will likely include reductions in programs, services and personnel.


Are Chardon teachers/staff overpaid?

NO.  Teacher salaries in Chardon are consistent with average wages in surrounding districts.  In fact, several nearby districts have higher average teacher salaries than Chardon Schools (See chart below).  The average salary for a teacher in the district is approximately $60,000 per year. This is very close to the state average and less than five comparison districts in the area.  

Teacher wages and benefits are set by their union contract.  Employees of the Chardon District have consistently agreed to collective bargaining agreements that have been responsible to the school district’s financial outlook, as well as being proactive in implementing changes in health care that are responsible in containing costs while ensuring that qualifying employees and their families have appropriate levels of health care.


Are there too many administrators in the District?

NO.  We are far below the state average in pupil to administrator ratio.  Chardon has 200 pupils per administrator; whereas the state average is 148.  We are also far below surrounding districts whose ratios are as follows:  Kenston 145:1, Mentor 158:1, West Geauga 85:1.  The chart below provides a comparison of local and comparable districts in the region.  Our position in this chart indicates that our administrators are responsible for more students than is the case in surrounding districts. These statistics are from the most recent data compiled by the O.D.E. in the Cupp Report.  

An Assistant Superintendent of Business Affairs was hired in order to address the operational and building/grounds needs of the district.  It is important to note that this position replaced the existing Business Manager position that has been vacant since December 2016 and funded at the same compensation level.

How much has state revenue dropped in the past few years?

Since 2006, Chardon Schools have suffered a $2.8 million loss of state revenue with the elimination of the Tangible Personal Property Tax allocation.  

Citizens for Chardon Schools
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