Wednesday, August 4, 2004

8 school levies fail

Mount Healthy one of two to pass

By Cindy Kranz
Enquirer staff writer

Sharon Revel (left) and Diana Ivkovich of Fairfield watch at the Receptions catering hall Tuesday as a levy for Fairfield Schools goes down in defeat. They have children in the schools.
A 25-year tradition of winning at the ballot box ended Tuesday when Sycamore Community Schools lost a levy that would have raised $12 million a year.

The vote was 5,617 against and 3,576 for the 7.9-mill continuing operating levy. The district of 5,700 students had organized opposition to a levy for the first time in memory.

Sycamore officials attributed the loss to the economy.

"It's one of the taxes people get to say 'no' to," Sycamore school board President Pete Hershberger said. "People are saying enough is enough. They're saying it's time to tighten your belts."

Sycamore was one of eight Southwest Ohio districts with 10 issues on the ballot. Of those issues, only two passed - in Mount Healthy and Williamsburg - in keeping with a dismal trend of failure for Ohio levies voted on in August.

"Our spirits aren't broken, because no matter what we see here tonight, we really do care about the kids," Sycamore Superintendent Karen Mantia said. "We will continue to persevere to make sure our kids perform at their highest levels. That's a commitment we'll continue to have no matter what kind of dire financial needs we're in."

Meanwhile, high school busing will not be reinstated in Winton Woods City Schools, which saw its levy fail.

On the second attempt this year, by a vote of 2,287 to 1,964, voters turned down an 8.95-mill combination levy that included 7.95 mills that would have raised $3.9 million annually and a 1-mill permanent improvement levy that would have raised $495,000 annually.

The district of 3,968 students will likely be back on the ballot in November.

"I don't think we really were able to get out to the community that we've raised our standing to 'continuous improvement'" on the State Report Card, board President John Pennycuff said. "Of course, we will have that to really trumpet for the November election, but we've got to get busy in helping students generate car pools for the high school. We're very disappointed for the kids, but I'm sure the board will want to give it another try in November."

Mount Healthy City Schools voters approved a five-year, 1.54-mill emergency levy renewal that will continue to bring $500,000 to the district in each of the next five years for existing programs. The vote was 1,477 to 1,165. Taxes will not increase.

In Clermont County, Williamsburg Local School District voters approved a 6.4-mill, five-year levy by a vote of 847-748. The levy, which renews 2.8 mills and adds 3.6 mills, will raise $651,116 in each of the next five years. The cost is a net increase of $110 annually on a $100,000 home. A levy on the March ballot was narrowly defeated.

Clermont Northeastern Schools lost on its second try this year. A 4.9-mill permanent improvement levy that would have raised $1.2 million annually to pay for textbooks, upgrading technology and building/grounds maintenance, was defeated, 1,739 to 1,066.

In Butler County:

• Fairfield voters rejected a 6.9-mill operating levy, 8,677 to 7,960, for the fourth time in three years. It would have raised $9.1 million annually for day-to-day operations.

• Edgewood voters rejected a 6.9-mill operating levy, 2,867 to 1,422. It would have provided $2.5 million annually for daily operations.

In Warren County, voters rejected three money issues for the Franklin Schools:

• A 9.79-mill operating levy that would have provided $3.8 million for day-to-day operations and $800,000 for improvements, defeated 2,082 to 2,036.

• A 4.73-mill bond issue that would have provided $29.8 million to add classrooms and renovate schools, defeated 2,338 to 1,775.

• A 0.19-mill bond issue that would have provided $1.2 million to renovate the stadium, failed 2,354 to 1,751.

Those defeats mean the end of high school busing and the start of "pay to participate" fees for students in the Butler County districts.

Sue Kiesewetter contributed to this report. E-mail

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