Enquirer News Update   -   Updated 6:40 p.m.

Cincinnati school levy passes
despite opposition

Cincinnati school district residents Tuesday handily renewed a five-year operating levy that raises $65 million a year.

With all 440 district precincts reporting, the levy was approved, 88,895 to 61,347, according to unofficial results.

Levy supporters said they were optimistic about the vote despite opposition from two school board members and other traditional levy supporters like the Cincinnati Business Committee and the Baptist Ministers Conference.

Schools Superintendent Alton Frailey, who awaited the returns at the Bond Hill campaign headquarters for levy supporters, said he believed most voters would support the levy renewal because of the academic gains the 38,800-student district had made.

"I've always felt this is a community that really cares about its children," Frailey said, adding that the district plans to reduce its budget even if the levy passes.

Officials say budget cuts are necessary because student enrollment and state revenues are declining. The district also overspent its 2003-04 budget by nearly $22 million. Frailey said he expects to unveil plans this month to reduce the budget.

Avondale resident Rochell Ivory, 34, said she voted for the renewal because three of her children attend Cincinnati Public Schools.

"I want them to get the best education possible," she said.

Ivory said she heard of the opposition but disregarded it.

"I'm not too concerned about what they think," she said. "I think you should be for the children, and I don't see why they wouldn't be."

Others voters said they didn't support the levy because they don't want to pay the taxes.

Cheviot resident Ed Meyer, 50, said he pays tuition to send his two children to parochial schools and doesn't want to pay more for the public schools.

"It's like paying double," he said.

The owner of a home valued at $100,000 pays $299 a year for the levy. Money generated from the levy pays for school district operating expenses, including teacher salaries, textbooks and supplies.

E-mail jmrozowski@enquirer.com