A proposed 0.75-mill permanent improvement levy for the Lorain County JVS is asking too much of taxpayers, according to Wellington and JVS board of education member Ayers Ratliff.
The JVS levy would raise nearly $4.5 million per year, which comes from property owners in Lorain, Huron, and Erie counties.
Ratliff said he plans to start a public campaign against the JVS levy that would include speaking with Lorain County commissioners.
“(The JVS) is going to ask us, as a board, to pass a resolution to endorse this levy,” said Ratliff. “They did it the last time. I don’t know how we, in good conscience, can endorse it or vote for it at the polls. I’ve supported every levy for our children that I can remember. The JVS has never had a permanent improvement levy and they don’t even know everything they’ll spend this money on.”
Ratliff presented numbers from the Lorain County auditor’s office to the Wellington board July 17 that showed all 14 Lorain County public school districts collecting just over $8 million in annual permanent improvement money with levies already on the books.
He contended that the Wellington Schools would need a 23.26-mill levy in order to equal the yearly money that the JVS’ 0.75-mill measure would generate.
JVS superintendent Glenn Faircloth said Ratliff is overgeneralizing in his comparison of the vocational school’s prospective levy money to what’s collected by other county districts.
“The pots of money are different,” he said. “We have outdated programs at our school. We are Lorain County’s career center, not just Wellington’s or Oberlin’s. We haven’t received any new money since 1985. When (Mr. Ratliff) looks at these numbers he’s not comparing apples to apples. We have board members representing every other district in our area that support our levy.”
This year has seen a rift grow between Ratliff and his fellow JVS board members.
He was censured by the JVS board in April and accused of disrespecting officials, sharing confidential information, attacking Faircloth’s credentials, “invoking derogatory racial stereotypes” when speaking with Faircloth, making remarks that could be perceived as sexual harassment in the presence of female staff members, and trying get involved in individual employee matters and in a pending legal proceeding involving the district.
While denying those accusations, Ratliff called the censure a “smoke screen” and retaliation for challenging provisions in a new contract for Faircloth and accusing the superintendent of plagiarizing portions of his college dissertation.
A letter from the Wellington board to the JVS asked that Ratliff be reimbursed for more than $300 he’d been charged when requesting copies of meeting records. Ratliff feels that letter was also a deciding factor in his censure.
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.