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Luck rains on schools in Summit districts

By John Published: May 4, 2011
Green Intermediate School sixth grad student Ella Damm campaigns for the school levy in front of the building on Tuesday. (Phil Masturzo/Akron Beacon Journal)

By John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer

All but one Summit County school district passed levies Tuesday, despite pouring rain that suppressed turnout and more than $4-a-gallon gas that made voters sensitive to their budgets.

Revere, Green and Hudson all passed levies for new taxes by comfortable margins.

Cuyahoga Falls and Manchester passed replacement levies that restore millage that had been reduced because of rising property values. Tallmadge passed two renewal levies that didn't raise taxes.

Nordonia Hills was the only Summit County district on the ballot that didn't win.

The Summit districts were among 21 in the area that had issues on the primary ballot to pass new taxes, renew taxes or pass construction bonds.

In Portage County, the Rootstown and Waterloo districts saw their levies defeated.

In Wayne County, the Chippewa and Triway districts renewed levies, while Dalton passed a bond issue to build a K-8 building.

Stark County results were not complete as of press time. Tax issues in Jackson, Northwest and Canton Local were passing; a bond issue in Lake was losing.

Highland schools in Medina County squeaked out a win for its tax levy in the tally of absentee ballots that followed the count of electronic votes in Tuesday's primary.

Eleven votes decided it.

Last May, Highland lost a heartbreaker when it was ahead in the electronic vote, but lost in the paper ballot count.

Highland is not declaring victory this time until provisional ballots, which are cast by voters whose eligibility is in question, are counted.

''Right now it's just too close to call for us,'' Highland Superintendent Catherine Aukerman said. She said officials will have a better idea this morning.

''It's down to the wire, and really, we're on pins and needles until this count tomorrow morning,'' Aukerman said.

The Mogadore victory on Tuesday was even tighter, just eight votes more in favor. The 8.49-mill levy will cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $260 a year, a 24-percent increase in school taxes.

''I'm new to Mogadore, but the one thing I know about the community is that they take care of their young people, and they showed me that tonight,'' said Superintendent Christina Dinklocker, who started with the district in January.

Revere won on its third try after proponents staged a massive campaign that had raised close to $30,000 through mid-April.

Families and Community Together for Schools (F.A.C.T.S.) was formed to push back against organized opposition to two previous attempts to pass a new property tax.

A few months ago, supporters set a goal of getting 3,500 ''yes'' votes. They got that, plus 60 more. The opposition tallied 3,019 votes against the 4.83-mill levy.

''Our predictions were pretty good,'' F.A.C.T.S. President Dave Gifford said. ''We sat down. We had a plan. We put together a very well-structured group. We stayed focused and we worked really hard.''

It also was Hudson's third try for new money.

Districts had to place issues on the ballot before Gov. John Kasich released his proposed two-year budget in mid-March. It calls for steep cuts in state funding for wealthier districts.

Hudson Superintendent Steven Farnsworth said that might have helped his district at the polls.

''That probably caused many people to realized that if we were going to solve the problem, we were going to have to solve it locally. We weren't going to get it solved in Columbus,'' he said.

Ohio voters cast ballots on 113 school levies, 21 school income-tax issues and four school bond issues, according to the Associated Press.


John Higgins can be reached at 330-996-3792 or jhiggins@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the education blog at http://education.ohio.com/.

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