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Published: Wednesday, 8/3/2005

6 schools are winners, 5 losers on ballot issues <font face="verdana" size="1" color =#CC0000><b>* School levy results *</b></font>

BY ERIKA RAY AND STEVE MURPHY
BLADE STAFF WRITERS
Gussie Oberhouse signs in to vote on the Eastwood school levy in Precinct 240 as poll worker Carol Moore looks on, at the
Pemberville fire house. Gussie Oberhouse signs in to vote on the Eastwood school levy in Precinct 240 as poll worker Carol Moore looks on, at the Pemberville fire house.
LONG / BLADE Enlarge

Officials and students in one Wood County school district had a reason to celebrate after seeing the results of yesterday's special election.

After losing by just 38 votes in May, a five-year, 4.8-mill emergency operating levy for Eastwood Local Schools passed with 53.4 percent of the vote, unofficial results showed.

"We're slapping high-fives here in my office," Superintendent Bill McFarland said last night.

The levy - which will pay for operating expenses such as personnel, utilities, fuel, equipment, and technology - will raise $878,000 a year and cost the owner of a $100,000 home $168 a year.

Mackenzie Cherry, 11, said she knew Eastwood's levy would pass after getting plenty of positive feedback from voters.

She and as many as 10 of her friends stood outside the Pemberville Freedom Fire Department polling place for hours yesterday, holding up posters with such messages as "Our future is in your hands. Vote yes for Eastwood schools."

"We're so happy," she said. "I feel definitely like we made a huge difference."

Mackenzie, who will be a sixth grader at Eastwood Middle School, said those who participated in the campaign were worried about the cuts the school board said it would make if the levy failed.

"We're older now, and so all the little kids who are coming into the school should get to do all the same things that we got to do," said 10-year-old Marissa Flores, who will be a fifth grader at Pemberville Elementary School.

District officials said they needed the levy after projecting a budget deficit that would have started at $2.4 million for fiscal year 2007 because of dwindling carryover balances and escalating costs.

Elsewhere in northwest Ohio, results were mixed for the 10 other districts with issues on the special-election ballot. Five celebrated wins, while the remaining five saw their levies go down to defeat.

In the Benton-Carroll-Salem Local School District in Ottawa County, voters defeated a five-year, 5.3-mill emergency operating levy for the second straight time.

Voters rejected the same levy in May by less than 100 votes; yesterday's margin was nearly 200 votes.

Lucile Gordon, 91, leaves the voting booth at Oak Harbor High School, at right, where she cast her ballot on the Benton-Carroll-Salem levy request. Lucile Gordon, 91, leaves the voting booth at Oak Harbor High School, at right, where she cast her ballot on the Benton-Carroll-Salem levy request.
KING / BLADE Enlarge

The levy would have raised $1.5 million a year for the district, which is home to the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station. B-C-S officials had said they needed the tax increase to replace money the district is losing because of a change in how the state distributes personal property tax receipts from nuclear power plants.

In another district affected by state tax changes, Clyde-Green Springs Exempted Village Schools, voters narrowly passed an emergency five-year, 5.9-mill operating levy.

District officials had said the tax's $1.3 million in annual revenue would help make up for losses the district expects from the state's planned phaseout of tangible personal property taxes.

Clyde-Green Springs, which draws students from Sandusky and Seneca counties, stands to lose revenue from Whirlpool Corp., its biggest taxpayer.

The levy will cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 an additional $181 a year.

Also relishing a win at the ballot box were officials with Gorham-Fayette Local Schools, which received approval of a 7.1-mill, 28-year bond issue to replace two schools with a new building.

"Thumbs up," Superintendent Dave Hankins said. "We're very pleased."

Yesterday's vote means district leaders will make plans to break ground in the fall of 2006 and move students into a new school 18 months later. The bond issue will raise $4.9 million toward the project; the state will pay the rest of the $21.7 million cost. The district plans to demolish its school in Fayette because of concerns about environmental contamination. Also to be replaced is Franklin Elementary School in Zone.

Voters in the Millcreek-West Unity Local School District in Williams County narrowly rejected a 7.6-mill, 28-year, $7.1 million bond issue that would have helped pay for construction of a new school.

Two Hancock County school districts got good news last night as voters approved tax increases for classroom operations.

After losing by a single vote in May, a three-year, 5.5-mill operating levy passed comfortably this time for Van Buren Local Schools, while Vanlue Local Schools won approval of a four-year, 6.5-mill operating levy by eight votes.

Van Buren's levy, which will generate $1,275,000 a year for the growing district north of Findlay, will cost the owner of a $100,000 home $168 a year.

Blade staff writers Jennifer Feehan and Jane Schmucker contributed to this report.



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