The North Canton City School District also has three new board members.

NORTH CANTON  North Canton school leaders will be sitting down soon to start talking about where they can trim millions from the district’s operating budget, following the defeat of the school’s proposed tax levy Tuesday.

According to unofficial election results, voters in the North Canton City School District overwhelmingly rejected Issue 44, which sought a 34-year, 3.99-mill bond issue and a continuing 0.75-percent earned income tax. With 54 percent of the precincts reported countywide Tuesday, unofficial election results show that 68 percent of voters opposed the tax while 32 percent supported it.

Beyond funding the district’s $74.4 million portion of its $108.4 million facilities project, Issue 44 also would have generated $4.4 million a year to boost and stabilize school operating funds. The district, which laid off six teachers last school year, has already cut roughly $300,000 from this school year’s operations and now must decide how to cut nearly $2 million before next school year begins.

"We will need to regroup and go back to our community and determine what they are willing to support," said Superintendent Jeff Wendorf, as he thanked the campaign team for its efforts. "The need doesn't change, but the funding method may or may not change."

He said the district will weigh its options before determining whether to seek a new ballot issue in an upcoming election.

While Wendorf declined to commit to specific cuts that might be made for next school year, he previously said options the district could consider include pay-to-participate fees, busing reductions, increased class sizes and eliminating non-required classes with low attendance, such as some Advanced Placement classes.

Challenges

Supporters of Issue 44 faced a rare organized opposition campaign. Organizers of the Vote No on Issue 44 committee opposed the size of the tax and that the proposed earned income tax did not expire. Some North Canton city officials also publicly expressed concerns that Issue 44’s earned income tax could hinder the city’s economic growth.

Kyle Reed, 53, said he voted against Issue 44 because of how much the district was asking voters to pay. If the tax had been approved, the average North Canton homeowner, with a home valued at $170,000 and earning $61,000 a year, would have paid $238 a year in new property taxes and $457 a year in income tax.

"Even though I am a teacher and have a child in the district, I think they're asking for too much in one shot,” said Reed, 53.

Tom Irwin, 70, voted against the levy because the proposed earned income tax had no expiration.

“It's a blank check. A permanent tax,” he said.

School board race

In the school board race where two incumbents did not seek re-election, unofficial election results show that the board will have three new faces come Jan. 1.

Former superintendent Robert P. Roden garnered 27 percent of the vote, with attorney Andrea Ziarko and Jessica Stroia both capturing 25 percent of the vote. School board President Bruce R. Hunt trailed with 24 percent of the vote, unofficial results show.

Staff writer Jessica Holbrook contributed to this report.

Reach Kelli at 330-580-8339 or kelli.weir@cantonrep.com.

On Twitter: @kweirREP