Monday, March 15, 2004

Districts seek 2nd shot for levies

Two will be back on Clermont ballot

By Karen Vance
Enquirer contributor

STONELICK TOWNSHIP - Two Clermont County school districts that lost tax levy requests earlier this month are planning to seek voter support at least one more time before budget deficits kick in for the 2005-06 school year.

"We have to put it back on the ballot. This was a levy of necessity. It's not a levy of convenience," said Jayne Mummert of the Clermont Northeastern school board.

The district's 4.9-mill permanent improvement levy was soundly rejected by 70 percent of voters. . On Thursday, the school board will discuss possible cuts, said Superintendent Charles Shreve.

The levy would have paid for textbooks, building maintenance and technology updates while freeing up money for teachers and to cover pending deficits, he said. It would have cost $150 per year for the owner of a $100,000 home.

In the nearby Williamsburg Local School District, the board will discuss its narrowly failed levy at 6 p.m. today . The 6.4-mill issue - part renewal, part new money and emergency operating levy - went down by 89 votes with 748 votes against and 659 in favor.

Superintendent Thomas Durbin said the failure was particularly disappointing given the district's recent improvements.

In spite of deficits, staffing cuts and an administration change, the district moved from an "academic watch" rating on the Ohio school report card to an "effective" rating in just one year.

"That's a credit to our staff and to our students," Durbin said. "We've had to do more with less, but there comes a time when it becomes very difficult to do more with less without cutting some more. It's hard to scrape bone."

The district doesn't expect a deficit until the 2005-06 school year. Durbin said he expects the board to direct him to prepare a list of possible cuts for that school year in case the levy doesn't pass between now and then.

In Clermont Northeastern, where the district also does not expect a deficit until the 2005-06 school year, the board members are not as optimistic.

"I foresee we'll have to look at cutting busing and sports or reduce things," said board member Mike Freeman, who is in his first term on the board. "We cannot assume this is going to pass; we can only hope and pray."

Mummert, also in her first term, said the district has to work to overcome a lot of misconceptions among voters and will step up community forums and information sessions to combat those.

If you go

Williamsburg Local Schools board meeting, 6 p.m. today, Middle School/High School, 500 S. 5th St., Williamsburg, Room 202, the Family Consumer Science Room.

Clermont Northeastern Local Schools board meeting, 6 p.m. Thursday, Administration Building, 2792 U.S. 50, Stonelick Township.

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