Thursday, August 10, 2000

Norwood to try again for levy; Milford unsure

By Tom O'Neill
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Milford and Norwood school districts were united in defeat Wednesday, but are carving out very different strategies to answer a question. What now?

        Norwood school officials said after Tuesday night's special-election levy vote they'll likely return the issue in November. The Milford school district, however, stinging from a narrow defeat in March and an overwhelming defeat Tuesday, will likely forego another vote this year, Superintendent John S. Frye said Wednesday.

        Instead, Milford will go directly to the public. No timetable was set for the forums. In the meantime, the district will consider increasing class sizes and adding more modular classrooms to accommodate growth.

        “We need to engage the community and say "Where to now?'” Mr. Frye said. “We need that input to build a plan that's acceptable.”

        Voters in the St. Bernard-Elmwood Place and Three Rivers districts passed levies Tuesday. In March, six school levies were approved, four were defeated, and one was split — the CPS levy in which a renewal was approved but an addition was not.

        Tuesday's defeats leave Norwood and Milford scrambling, officials said.


  • Norwood's 7.68-mill emergency operating levy would have raised $2.4 million annually for five years. It would have cost the owner of a home valued at $84,000 an additional $128 a year.

            The levy included a renewal of the expiring 2.7-mill levy and an additional 4.98-mills. It lost, 1,477 to 867.

            “I intended to vote for it and would support it again next time,” said Pam Kuhn, 51, of Norwood, who was unable to vote Tuesday. “I

            think Norwood schools, my general impression, is that they're pretty good, and I want to keep that standard up.”

            ăMilford's 5.3-mill bond issue would have cost the owner of a $100,000 home $53 annually. It lost 4,468 to 3,379.

            That loss was particularly disappointing for school officials because the same levy lost in March by just 1.1 percentage points.

            “We've heard now twice that the community isn't going to support that levy,” Mr. Frye said. “It is very frustrating. Parents can and should make their voices known.”

            Brittan Egbert, a 21-year-old University of Cincinnati student, has lived in Milford all her life. When she went to her voting site Tuesday to support the bond issue, she was the only voter there.

            “I didn't see a lot more promo tion for it this time,” she said. “The only sign I saw was for the opposition. I understand the opposition that we're getting larger and larger, but yet no one wants to support the schools. It's been like this all my life.”

            She added, “But I do think the schools are too big.”

            So does the district.

            The levy was earmarked for a new middle school, bigger classrooms, new gymnasiums, and new science and technology labs.

            Only 31 percent of registered voters in the Milford school district voted Tuesday, a total of 7,847, according to the Clermont County Board of Elections. By comparison, more than 10,500 voters turned out in March and the levy lost by just 222 votes.

            Turnout was expected to be lower Tuesday because it didn't have two advantages the March voters had: a presidential primary, and nice weather.


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