Brookfield’s police levy was easily renewed May 7, but the school levy was handily defeated.
In unofficial totals, 673 people voted against the school’s proposed 1.9-mill permanent improvement levy – 64 percent of those who voted – while 378 voted for it.
The 2-mill, five-year police levy garnered 708 yes votes – 69 percent – against 324 no votes.
Only about one-third of the voters who turned out in the November general election bothered to come out in the primary, but the permanent improvement levy for the school actually did worse than in November, when 57 percent of voters said, “no.”
“I am disappointed that we haven’t been successful in convincing our voters of the need for this additional funding source,” said Brookfield school Superintendent Velina Jo Taylor. “As Warriors do, and as our families expect, we will continue to make the best of our situation in the coming months. This loss does not dampen our spirits as we head into the busy, end-of-the-year time. We will do our best each and every day and celebrate all the great things happening in Brookfield Local Schools.”
Taylor thanked levy committee Chairman Monica Fortuna and Treasurer James Ashton, “and all those who helped along the way. We are better for the effort!”
Police Chief Dan Faustino said: “I want to thank our community for supporting us, it is a pleasure to serve you and I can’t express enough our appreciation to everyone who helped us pass our renewal.”
An unscientific sampling of voters showed there was plenty of animosity toward the school levy and that the police levy was not the shoe-in that the final vote might lead one to believe.
Some voters accused school officials of trying to “sneak” its levy through by failing to promote it in traditional ways, while another said he is discouraged with the way education is going, which he said is straying too far from reading, writing and ‘rithmetic.
Don McFarland said he voted against both.
“I vote against all levies,” he said. “I’m retired. I’m on limited income.”
Even though the police referendum would not add to his tax burden, he said he voted no because the current taxes he pays are “just too much.”
“Everybody’s got their hands out,” he said.
As a former teacher, Evelyn Wlodarski said she feels it’s important to support education.
As for the police, “They do such a nice job, and it’s just a renewal,” Wlodarski said.
Megan Griffin reasoned along the same lines. She works for a Pennsylvania school helping students with mental health issues.
“I’m for kids, and I voted for the levy,” Griffin said. “I’m for all school systems and education.”
Griffin praised the police department for being “awesome.”
David Mills said he doesn’t find the police department to be so awesome. He said he has asked for speed enforcement in the area where he lives, on Warren Sharon Road in the central business district, and hasn’t gotten it.
“I don’t feel they’re doing their job, now,” he said. “I want them to enforce every law there is, even on me, if I’m doing something wrong.”
Mills added that he voted against the school levy, because he doesn’t believe officials are properly handling building construction issues such as the shifting shale in the middle school that is lifting the hallway and cracking walls, and problems with the roof. He said the school board should be going after the contractors who built the school first before coming to the taxpayers for more money.
“I won’t pay to fix somebody else’s mistake,” he said.
While school officials said they planned to use the permanent improvement money to buy buses, upgrade school security measures and renovate aged infrastructure at the football field, and not to fix problems at the main school building, Mills said he did not believe them.
Catherine Hodge agreed with Mills.
“I’m not fixing that school,” she said.
As for the police levy, “I always vote for the police levy, the fire levy and the road levy,” Hodge said.
Retired Brookfield school district Treasurer Kathryn Lazich and her husband, Joe, said they voted for both levies.
“We need it, and I think it will help out the community,” Joe Lazich said.
Bill Kilar said he voted for both levies, “for the kids and for police protection.”
As for the criticism of the school system, he said it’s more of the same.
“It hasn’t changed,” he said. “There’s gonna be something going on all the time.”