Trumbull school districts consider sharing services
A group of school districts in Trumbull County are considering sharing services to save money.
A group of school districts in Trumbull County is considering sharing services to save money.
Liberty, Mathews and Brookfield local school districts are asking the state to find some creative ways to make sure every tax dollar counts.
"Resources are just not out there. We certainly are not frightened about the conversation," said Joe Nohra, Superintendent of Liberty Local Schools.
Within the next month, Nohra says the Ohio Auditor's Office is expected to begin conducting a feasibility study to look at a variety of possible cost-cutting options. He says the conversation with neighboring districts started about a year ago when Mathews School leaders reached out.
Liberty's five-year financial forecast shows the district could go into the red in years four and five.
"I know that we're going to have to look at consolidation and greater sharing of services," he said.
Some of the areas where they could consolidate; food services, special education, administrative staffing, and transportation.
Longtime Liberty School Board member and former educator Diana De Vito says the districts are too close together to not consider the option.
"Some of them are a couple miles apart, five miles, maybe seven miles apart," Diana De Vito said. "I think those are problems that can be overcome with some planning."
De Vito hopes that the districts eventually consider possible mergers to provide the best educational options to students.
"There has to be a reckoning," she said. "The amount of tax dollars that we can collect in this area especially is very limited."
De Vito doesn't want to see a "mega district" formed, but possibly a larger school district with about 1,000 students.
Nohra agrees that school district consolidation will likely have to happen one day. He doesn't agree with how the state of Ohio currently leaves the decision to merge or consolidate entire districts up to the voters.
"I believe that there should be incentives and there should be some mandates for some of the smaller districts because it's really hard to operate certain departments," Nohra said.
Matthews Local School Board President Tarin Brown says his district is in favor of sharing services but believes Mathews will be fine to continue as its own school district.