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Officials: Greenon levy failure means deficit

Clark County district plans to consolidate from 4 buildings to 3.

Greenon Local School District is facing an operating deficit next year after voters rejected a combined new facilities bond and an earned income tax levy Tuesday, officials said.

A 4.95-mill bond issue would have guaranteed more than $13 million in state funding to build a new 7th- through 12th-grade school, and a 0.5 percent earned income tax would have helped cover the operating expenses, officials said.

Voters declined the district’s so-named “Plan B” by a nearly 8 percent margin, according to final, unofficial results. That’s compared to the 10 percent margin in November, when voters rejected a different building plan and a 0.75 percent income tax issue.

“We’re still going to pursue consolidating to three buildings with the thought process of that we can’t afford to operate four buildings,” Superintendent Dan Bennett said. “We can take the dollars saved in operational costs from (consolidating), and we can start to make the necessary and needed improvements to Greenon High School.”

But at least one opponent said she was relieved that her and her husband’s money would stay at home to take care of her kids, one of which will graduate this year from the district.

Angela Auckerman said she couldn’t imagine what life would be like for her 2-year-old daughter in her adulthood if it had passed. Another of their children is homeschooled and the girl will be homeschooled too, she said.

“My daughter is going to be 36 years old when that plan would have retired … and that’s wrong for me or anyone else to put that burden on my kids,” Auckerman said. “We don’t know what the future holds for these kids, and there is no school building in the world that’s that important to me to put that burden on my kids.”

The Greenon Board of Education will now make a priority list for repairs to the high school, and those will be made as funds are available, Bennett said.

He said it was impossible to put a price tag on the repairs at this time because some projects also require upgrades per new building codes, but he said it would be in the millions of dollars.

“We still have a need to address our operating deficits that we’re projecting by the end of next year, and I would say that consolidation can definitely help us with saving personnel and sharing personnel, but it doesn’t appear that it’s going to be the answer to our issue,” he said.

The district is facing an overall operating fund deficit of $319,000 at the beginning of the 2015 fiscal year and a $3.6 million deficit by the end of fiscal year 2017, according to its 5-year forecast, spokeswoman Megan Anthony said.

Nearly 37 percent of registered voters in Greenon precints cast their ballot on the issue Tuesday.

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