Only 1 local school issue approved

Of the six local school districts on Tuesday’s ballot in Clark and Champaign counties, only one issue was approved by voters, according to final unofficial results.

Clark-Shawnee Local Schools voters approved the renewal of two existing levies and an emergency increase of $455,647 for a district that has cut about $3 million from its $17 million budget in the last two years, said Superintendent Gregg Morris.

“We really appreciate it. We’ve made significant cuts over the last few years, and we had to pass this,” said Morris.

The 7.49-mill levy will not raise taxes on property owners. Without it, the district would have had to cut its budget by 20 percent, and the board previously announced that it will still look for additional money in the spring, said Morris.

Voters rejected an appeal for an emergency five-year levy for Tecumseh Local Schools, which has a projected $1.7 million deficit in fiscal year 2014 and risks state takeover in November 2013.

The district has cut its budget by 22 percent since 2003, eliminating $7.5 million in positions and student programs, said Superintendent Jim Gay.

“It will be a loss of local control,” Gay said. “We’re running very lean right now. We’ve cut so much, we’re at a point where we really can’t cut our way out of this.”

Eight funding requests have been voted down since 2004, but the district will have three more opportunities before a takeover, said Gay.

Residents also voted down a 1 percent annual income tax to pay for operating expenses for Northeastern Local Schools. The district eliminated 29 positions last spring in an attempt to move their deficit projection back a year, said Superintendent Lou Kramer.

“I have a lot of respect for the election process, and I certainly respect our community,” Kramer said. “But it does have some real ramifications for us as a district, so we’ll have to look at programming and staffing so we can live within our means.”

Voters in two local school districts rejected ballot issues that would have paid for construction partnerships with the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC).

If Greenon Local Schools had secured its share of the building partnership, the OSFC would have given the district $22.5 million, 40 percent of the basic construction costs for two new school buildings. The contribution is only guaranteed through next summer.

“Our school buildings are in need, and we believed this comprehensive plan would prepare our students for the 21st century,” said Superintendent Dan Bennett in a statement.

The issue would have allowed the district to issue $32 million in bonds and institute a property tax to pay for the bonds over 38 years. The levy, which would cost $184 for the owner of a $100,000 home, was combined with a .75 percent annual earned income tax to pay for current expenses.

West Liberty-Salem Local Schools in Champaign County also sought money for a construction partnership with the OSFC and was also turned down by the district’s voters.

The bond issue would have raised $14.5 million of the $37 million project, to be repaid over 27 years by a 7.55-mill property tax that would cost $231 a year for the owner of a $100,000 home. The partnership offer expires next spring.

Urbana Local schools also failed to pass a five-year levy for operating expenses. The district has cut 18 positions and has reduced its budget by $2.3 million since the its last levy approval in 2008. That levy must be renewed in 2013 and provides 2.3 million annually.

Superintendent Charles Thiel said the levy failure would require $1 million in expenditures cuts and that the school board will have to look for ways to minimize the impact on students and avoid state takeover of the district.

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