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

Sycamore levy passes; three others fail in Hamilton County



Sycamore Community Schools narrowly passed its operating levy early this morning, while final, unofficial results also showed that levies were approved in Cincinnati, Reading, Finneytown and Winton Woods school districts.

Meanwhile, anti-tax sentiment among voters appeared to be thriving in four other Hamilton County communities, with levies going down in Deer Park, Northwest and Three Rivers.

One of the most closely watched issues was Sycamore Schools' second attempt at a levy this year. After 60 percent of voters rejected the levy in August, the district reduced the levy this time to 5.5 mills, with a limit of five years.

With all 51 precincts reporting, the operating levy was approved, 9,915 to 9,157.

The district has already cut $6.1 million from the budget. Win or lose, Sycamore district officials already had announced plans to cut another $2.2 million, resulting in the elimination of 34 jobs.

On its third levy attempt this year, Winton Woods approved its 7.95-mill combination operating and permanent improvement levy. The final tally was 7,296 to 6,554.

The district hoped that large numbers of newly registered African-American voters, along with the district's improvement on the state's Local Report Card to "Continuous Improvement," would help its chances this time.

The win means high school busing will be reinstated in January.

Meanwhile, Three Rivers had also downsized its levy request from earlier this year, but voters still turned down the issue. The district requested a 5.95-mill operating levy for five years.

With the loss, more budget cuts are in store, including personnel, instruction, special courses, materials and textbooks, and fees are likely to increase.

Northwest Local School District, the second largest in Hamilton County with 10,800 students, saw its first levy attempt in seven years go down to defeat.

Northwest was seeking a 5.75-mill combination levy for operating expenses and permanent improvements. The district has not outlined any cuts that would be made with the levy loss.

In other final, unofficial results:

• Deer Park's 8.63-mill combination levy failed.

• Finneytown Schools' 7.95-mill continuing operating levy passed.

• Reading's 6.9-mill continuing operating levy was approved.

Public school districts in Ohio had 308 tax issues on Tuesday's ballot.

Sheila McLaughlin and Liz Oakes contributed. E-mail ckranz@enquirer.com