Cuyahoga Falls Schools Foundation withdraws request for loan from school district for Tiger Trails

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The Cuyahoga Falls Schools Foundation has withdrawn its request for a $30,000 loan from the school district to get the first phase of the Tiger Trails project under way this summer. School Board Vice President Barb Gunter said the request was moot —because the Cuyahoga Falls Board of Education gave the go-ahead for the project two years ago, with the understanding it would be entirely funded by the Foundation.

On Feb. 11, Gordon Griffiths, the president of the Cuyahoga Falls Schools Foundation, asked the School Board to consider loaning money for the first phase of a four-phase redesign of the entrance to Clifford Stadium that will be known as “Tiger Trail.” The overall project, featuring engraved bricks, is anticipated to cost $150,000. According to Griffiths, phase one will cost $70,000 and the Foundation has raised $40,000 of that to date. Board President Kellie Patterson said the Board would take Griffiths’ request under consideration at a future meeting.

Speaking on behalf of the Foundation at last night’s Board of Education meeting, Dr. Curtis Clemons, its vice president, said, “We’ve heard your concerns about partnering with us during the time that you’re coming up with a permanent improvement levy, so … the Foundation has decided we will ask to withdraw that proposal to you and we will carry out the project on our own.”

The school district has a 3-mill permanent improvement levy on the May 7 primary election ballot. If approved by voters, the levy would generate $2.219 million per year for its five-year term, according to the Summit County Fiscal officer.

Gunter said the School Board gave its unanimous approval for Tiger Trail in February 2011.

“The board’s already approved their part,” Gunter told Clemons, adding, “If you have the money, you can proceed.” Noting staff members in the school district haven’t received a pay increase since 2009/10, Gunter said, “It would have been irresponsible for any Board member, in my opinion, to vote to let anybody borrow money from the general fund — We’re not a bank.”

Board member Dale Petty, the school board’s liaison to the Foundation, said he believes Foundation members have been disappointed by Board members’ reaction to what’s envisioned as a community project.

Clemons pledged the Foundation will strive for better communication with the school board in the future.

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