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Published: Wednesday, 5/9/2001

Port Clinton voters pan plan for new schools


PORT CLINTON - Voters in the Port Clinton school district yesterday rejected the system's biggest building project in nearly half a century, while residents of the Ada Exempted Village Schools passed two levies to build a kindergarten through 12th-grade school and an auditorium.

Port Clinton's 3.92-mill, 28-year bond issue lost by more than 500 votes out of 4,021 cast. The levy would have raised $26.4 million to replace three aging school buildings with two new ones.

Superintendent Dennis Rectenwald said the weakening economy was a factor.

“I think this became certainly an economic issue with a lot of people in the community,” he said. “Better times and better signals from the federal government ... would have helped us.”

The district's plan called for Catawba and Portage elementary schools to be replaced by an elementary school at State Rt. 53 and Cemetery Road in Catawba Island Township. In addition, Port Clinton Middle School was to be razed and replaced by a middle school beside Port Clinton High School.

All three buildings are more than 75 years old.

During their campaign for the issue, district officials argued that the aging school buildings were inefficient, a turn-off for potential new residents, and inadequate for the technology needs of today's students.

The Ada levies were the first to appear on the ballot in the district in 30 years. The 5.7-mill levy for a new school will replace the district's 72-year-old high school and other buildings from the 1950s. The second tax will levy 2.2 mills for a 550-seat auditorium. Both levies will run for 27 years.

The two levies would raise an estimated $7.85 million for the 900-student district. The state will pay 72 per cent of the school complex construction but will not contribute to the auditorium project. The projects will cost an estimated $21 million.

In the Fostoria school district, voters soundly defeated a five-year, 5-mill levy.

District officials had said the levy, which would have raise just under $1 million a year, was needed to fix school buildings, maintain academics, and head off budget deficits.

The district has projected a deficit of $700,000 by July 1, 2002, without more revenue or budget cuts. Superintendent Sharon Stannard said before the vote that she expected the board of education to consider staff cuts and other reductions if the levy was voted down.

Voters in the Margaretta Local School District in Erie and Sandusky counties refused to approve an operating levy for the 1,600-student district.

The proposed 6.8-mill levy would have replaced a three-year, 7.75-mill tax that voters passed in February, 1998. The permanent levy would have raised an estimated $1.1 million a year, about $25,000 a year less than the current tax.

Also in Erie County, Kelleys Island voters decisively rejected three property tax issues.

A three-year, 1.35-mill increase for operating expenses failed 175 to 48. A five-year, 1.35-mill replacement levy for police protection was defeated 187 to 33. And a three-year, 0.5-mill renewal for permanent airport improvements lost 184 to 38.

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