The 13th try was the charm for Buckeye schools in Medina County, which easily passed a new property tax for the first time since 1994.
About 250 gathered Tuesday night at the high school to watch the election returns.
“After 18 years and 12 tries, people were yelling and crying and screaming. It was a pretty amazing scene,” Superintendent Brian Williams said.
The final tally was 3,224 votes for the levy and 1,908 against.
“Obviously, we’ve been on the other end of that, being beaten pretty soundly,” Williams said. “I really thought it would be very close. I was very surprised to see the margin of victory. But obviously, we had a lot of people who realized that a minimum education is not good enough for our kids.”
Buckeye was the only school district in the Akron-Canton area to pass a levy for new taxes.
The district would have cut the school day down to the state minimum and eliminated hot lunches without an infusion of new tax dollars. The 7.9-mill levy will collect about $3 million a year for operations. The owner of a $100,000 home in Buckeye will pay an additional $242 a year, an increase of 31 percent in school taxes.
Levies for new operating funds failed in Barberton and Woodridge. A bond issue to build a new high school and renovate buildings in Coventry also failed.
Stark County voters trounced a new property tax for Louisville and an 1.25 percent earned income tax for Osnaburg.
Wayne County voters renewed a 2-mill general improvement levy for Dalton.
Barberton’s failure to pass a 8.52-mill levy means about 1,500 kids will no longer be able to ride a school bus.
Those kids live more than a mile away from school, but less than two miles.
Until now, Barberton has bused any child in preschool through eighth grade who lived more than a mile away from school.
The district will only bus children who live more than two miles away, the state minimum, when school starts this fall.
“We’ve been real up front with our parents to let them know that was going to happen,” Superintendent Patti Cleary said. “We sent letters to all those parents to let them know, but it’s kind of disappointing because we had a very low percentage of voters. Had we gotten our parents out, it probably would have passed. So I guess they made their decision on that.”
The Barberton school board will have a special meeting today to decide whether to try again in November.
Cleary said busing could be restored to the one-mile limit and increases in fees to play sports would be rolled back if voters approve a levy in November.
Barberton would not be able to offer full-day kindergarten in the 2013-2014 school year if voters don’t approve a levy in November, Cleary said.
“We’ve had full-day kindergarten here in Barberton since the late 1990s,” Cleary said. “So it’s really going to hurt the early childhood programs.”
Barberton also would reduce the elementary school day to five hours a day and eliminate music and art for kindergarten through fourth grade.
Woodridge will be on the Nov. 6 ballot with the same 6.83-mill levy that voters narrowly defeated Tuesday.
It was the district’s third defeat.
“If we cannot pass this levy in November, there will be massive cuts to our program and we are prepared to show the community what those cuts will be prior to them going to the polls,” Superintendent Walter Davis said. “So the board will meet next Tuesday night to begin the conversation.”
He said the board will come up with a list to cut at least $1.8 million from the operating budget over the next couple of meetings.
“We’ve already trimmed our budget by $2.1 million,” Davis said. “Now we’re talking about eliminating programs.”
Louisville in Stark County hasn’t passed a levy for new operating money since 1992 and it will have to wait even longer. The district was asking for a 5.9-mill levy that would have increased school taxes for the owner of a $100,000 home by 22 percent.
Osnaburg tried to pass an earned income tax, which would have applied to salaries, but not retirement or unemployment benefits.
The owner of a $100,000 home with an income of $50,000 would have paid an additional $625 in income tax, a 66 percent increase in school taxes.