Monday, March 1, 2004

Final push for primary


19 school levies and other issues go before voters Tuesday

By Liz Oakes
The Cincinnati Enquirer

With hours to go before Tuesday's primary elections, school-levy backers and opponents planned a blitz of phone calls, handouts and "honk-ins" at street corners across Greater Cincinnati today.

[img]
Central Reading Elementary School students Britney Rogers, 9, Paige Bowman, 9, and Rebecca Mullins, 10, yell "vote for me" to people in the neighborhood as they ride in the back of Rebecca's dad's car.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
On the last weekend before decisions on 19 area school levies and other issues, school supporters paraded through Reading and rallied in Loveland and Madeira. Tax opponents called voters for support, and presidential and local candidates called radio shows and stumped at bowling alleys.

In Reading on Sunday, 15 cars decorated with blue-and-white streamers and signs declaring, "This family says yes to Reading schools," drove through the streets in support of an 8.5-mill continuing operating levy that would raise $1.76 million annually.

"It's important to us that our coaches don't get cut and we still have the opportunities for other people in our school to compete in programs," said Jessica Shelton, 14, after painting "Vote yes for Reading levy" in white on the back window of her brothers' black Ford Taurus.

Shelton plays on the freshmen girls' softball team at Reading High School.

The district faces $500,000 in cuts if the operating levy doesn't pass. The cuts could include sports and three to five teaching jobs, said Superintendent Scott Inskeep.

About 300 parents, students and staff rallied at Loveland High School before 75 volunteers headed to neighborhoods to distribute 4,000 fliers on Sunday.

Loveland's main challenge, said school district communications coordinator Meg Krsacok, has been correcting the impression that it's trying to pass a 12-mill increase for maintenance, buses, textbooks, computers and schools security systems.

Instead, the issue is a combined 7-mill replacement and a 5-mill permanent improvement levy that would raise taxes $188 a year for the owner of a home valued at $100,000.

Meanwhile, tax opponents Citizens for Responsible Taxation dialed up voters over the weekend, urging them to vote against Three Rivers' continuing 12-mill levy.

Elsewhere:

• Springboro parents made hundreds of phone calls Sunday to ask people to vote. The district is seeking a $61.5 million bond issue for construction of two elementary schools and renovations to existing schools.

• West Clermont school district parents and staff planned to wave signs at 14 intersections and in front of three schools today from 5-6 p.m. The district is trying to pass a 7.9-mill five-year emergency operating levy.

• Batavia Local School District's levy committee scheduled a "honk-in" for the 6.9-mill operating levy from 4:30-5:30 p.m. on North Riverside Drive today.

In the Hamilton County commissioner's race, Pat DeWine stumped at Western Bowl in Bridgetown Sunday night, and will visit Price Hill Chili at noon and Colerain Bowl at 8 p.m. today.

His opponent in the Republican primary, John Dowlin, had no campaign activities scheduled Sunday or today.

Presidential candidate John Kerry also made an appearance of sorts in Cincinnati on Sunday, sandwiching a call to a local radio station between a morning debate and afternoon rally in New York.

"My primary goal is going to be job creation," Kerry said on WDBZ-AM (1230), also known as "The Buzz."

Coming Tuesday

Go online to Cincinnati.Com for election news, endorsements and voter information and watch the site Tuesday night for updates of primary election results. Keyword: Elections

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Reporter Cindi Andrews contributed. E-mail loakes@enquirer.com




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