Saturday, October 30, 2004
Schools say new levies are crucial
By Michael D. Clark
Enquirer staff writer
DEERFIELD TWP. - Two school districts in southern Warren County are battling different problems, but both hope for the same solution on Election Day - voter approval of new tax money.
Kings Schools wants voters to pass a 4.9-mill continuing levy to avoid almost $5 million in personnel and program cuts - including elimination of high school bus service - that are scheduled on top of $2 million of budget cuts already in place.
The district is also scrambling to find an estimated $4.1 million to build an athletic stadium to replace the facility that was demolished this year. Toxic lead on school grounds led to a $2 million cleanup paid for by federal environmental officials.
Tuesday's levy is not connected with the new stadium, which Kings officials plan to pay for from part of a permanent improvement levy up for voter renewal next year and private donations, but school officials say the district's top-rated academic rating will be in jeopardy without more operating money.
"Things will suffer down the road if it doesn't pass," said Board of Education member Bonnie Baker-Hicks in reference to the district's consistent academic rating of "excellent" by Ohio standards.
If approved, the levy would raise annual property taxes for a $100,000 home by $150.
In the Little Miami school system, the problem is booming growth that has the once small, rural district bursting at the seams.
Voters will decide on a $37 million bond issue to build a new junior high, elementary and add an addition to Little Miami High School. If approved, the 4.45-mill bond issue would cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $136 annually.
Board of Education member Mary Beth Hamburg noted that some kindergarten and elementary classes are being held in churches and described the new tax issue as "critical."
"We're already over capacity," Hamburg said.
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