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3 Clark school issues rejected

West Liberty-Salem lone district to earn approval.Shawnee, Tecumseh, Northeastern voters again say no to new money.

Three Clark County school districts — Clark-Shawnee, Tecumseh and Northeastern — failed to win voter approval of requests for new money in Tuesday’s special election.

All three had failed at previous attempts.

The lone area district that passed its issue was West Liberty-Salem in Champaign and Logan counties.

Voters rejected a proposed 1 percent income tax in the Northeastern Local School District by 2,351 no votes to 2,086 votes for, a margin of 53 percent to 47 percent, meaning the district will have to move ahead with cuts including reducing high school busing and eliminating some positions.

Lou Kramer, superintendent for Northeastern, pointed out the district has already made about $1.8 million in cuts in the last year that included eliminating 37 staff positions, including 12 teachers, as well as instituting a pay to participate policy for sports.

“We’re certainly pretty disappointed that it didn’t turn out to be a positive result for us,” Kramer said.

He said Northeastern will move ahead with plans to make further cuts and will ask voters to approve additional revenue in the future.

Northeastern voters defeated a similar request in November last year.

Karla Miller, a resident who opposed the Northeastern levy, argued most voters are tapped out on new taxes.

“People don’t have the money,” Miller said. “There’s a lot of people working two or three jobs, and (the school district) should deal with what they’ve got.”

Voters in Tecumseh Local School District handily rejected an additional 5-year, 12.37-mill property tax for the second time since May, triggering a third and final attempt in November to keep the district from state takeover.

That ballot issue came in 2,557 against and 1,902 for, a margin of 57 to 43 percent.

Tecumseh board members met in special session Tuesday night and opted to go back to voters to avoid a projected cash deficit.

“Obviously, we’re very disappointed that it did not pass,” Superintendent Brad Martin said. “However, we’re not going to give up the fight. We want to keep all the programs that we have intact, so in order to do that, we have to have new funds in order to change our financial picture.”

As a result of the failure, there will be no high school busing or field trips this coming school year, Martin said.

“We have not had new money for 17 years. That’s a pretty good run, and not too many districts in the state of Ohio can say they’ve been operating on funds set 17 years ago, and I think that proves we have been financially responsible,” Martin said.

Clark-Shawnee Local Schools voters rejected a second attempt at a 10-year, 7.59-mill request.

It was rejected in spring by only six votes, but lost in unnofficial count Tuesday of 1,590 against and 1,439 in favor, or about 52 percent to 47 percent.

“We had a very positive campaign and we worked hard to communicate the issue, but obviously we have some work to help our community understand the needs,” Superintendent Gregg Morris said.

The cuts implemented after the May election will remain, Morris said.

“We’re going to continue working hard and doing everything we can do for our students with the resources that are there, but we cannot cut our way out of this situation,” he said.

According to final, unofficial results, voters in Champaign and Logan counties approved a combined income tax and bond issue at West Liberty-Salem with 734 in favor and 632 against. Voters on that issue approved the levy with 54 percent in favor and 46 percent against.

At West Liberty-Salem, district officials had said the 0.25 percent income tax and the 3.62-mill bond issue was needed to help cover the cost of renovations and additions to the existing school. Among the upgrades, Craig Hissong, superintendent for West Liberty-Salem, said the district planned to replace the roof, improve the heating and air conditioning systems and increase classroom space. When the school was first built, the district housed about 900 students, but it has about 1,200 students now.

Hissong said the district will begin selling bonds immediately to lock in the best rates possible. The entire project could take as long as two years or three years, Hissong said.

Hissong has said this election was the district’s last chance to save about $1 million toward the project, because level of funding the state had previously promised to chip in the for district was set to expire at the end of August.

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