Beachwood Schools’ operating levy passes

With six of 11 precincts counted on Wednesday morning, the Beachwood Schools 5.9-mill operating levy appeared to be passing as it garnered an unofficial 59 percent of the vote.

BEACHWOOD, Ohio — The passage of six months, and the lopping off of a bond issue made a difference Tuesday as voters approved a 5.9-mill Beachwood City Schools operating levy.

Early Wednesday morning, the unofficial Cuyahoga County Board of Elections figures had Issue 2 passing by a count of 3,558 votes (59.3 percent), to 2,442 votes (40.7 percent percent).

It was in May that Issue 2 failed by a mere five votes out of 4,065 cast, with some who voted against it stating that they would have voted in favor had the bond issue not been attached.

In total, Beachwood Schools sought approval in May of 8.7 mills for a project that would have meant demolishing Bryden and Hilltop elementary schools and renovating Fairmount School to house all of the district’s elementary students.

This time around, Superintendent Robert Hardis and the board of education focused on the 5.9 mills in operating money needed to replace the $3.5 million in imminent, projected lost state funding so that programs and services could continue at a high quality level.

The schools also made it known that passage of Tuesday’s slimmed-down version of Issue 2 would help the district retain its highest possible Aaa bond rating, which would save taxpayers millions of dollars in interest when the district needs to borrow for capital projects.

The November edition of Issue 2 also had the backing of Mayor Martin Horwitz and City Council. In May, only Councilmen James Pasch and Alec Isaacson stated support for the combined Issue 2.

“We’re very happy for our kids and for our community,” said Board of Education President Brian Weiss. “Ever since I’ve been on the board, Beachwood citizens have shown us they value education and that’s what we’ve seen again.”

Mikhail Alterman, of the residents’ group Low Tax Citizens, which formed to oppose the levy, said Tuesday night maintained that “the state is not taking away $3.5 million next year.

“The pro-levy side is financed, in part, by construction and architect dollars. This is another sign that the levy is tied to the voter-rejected plan of demolishing two school buildings.”

Alterman said that “divisiveness will likely continue,” despite Tuesday’s passage.

In replay, Weiss said, “There will be no divisiveness. We’re not not going to demolish any buildings. Even though it was only five votes (in May), the voters voted that plan down.

“We are not going to demolish, we are going to maintain the two buildings.”

Weiss said it would be a couple of years before the board considers what its next action might be regarding future plans.

Beachwood charter amendments

The city of Beachwood asked voters whether they wanted to approve a slew of charter amendments. There were plenty of changes recommended as a charter review commission had not been convened in the city since 1994.

After meeting 18 times in 2017-18, the commission made 10 recommendations earlier this year for change.

“There’s nothing controversial,” the commission’s chairman, Kenneth Kraus, said in May.

Among the mostly procedural recommendations were those altering the qualifications for those holding the position of law or finance director, and another in which the charter makes clear that the position of mayor is a full-time position.

Unofficial results showed that the changes, bundled together as Issue 13, passed by a count of 4,002 votes (77.2 percent), to 1,180 (22.8 percent).

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