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Published: Friday, 5/7/2010

Hill says she erred in tying Libbey's fate to income tax levy

BY CHRISTOPHER D. KIRKPATRICK
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo Board of Education member Brenda Hill said yesterday she was mistaken in believing her April 1 tie-breaking vote to save Libbey High School was contingent on passage of an income tax levy.

She acknowledged she was mistaken but would not say, in retrospect, how she might have voted armed with the correct information.

"The inner city has had a lot of schools close," she said.

She said she would talk with the other board members about the issue.

The 3-2 vote to remove the aging South Toledo high school from the TPS cut list proved a key development this year, rippling outward to affect the budget, union negotiations, and public opinion leading up to the levy vote.

Ms. Hill joined board members Jack Ford, who made the motion, and Larry Sykes in voting to save the school.

Board President Bob Vasquez and Vice President Lisa Sobecki voted against removing it from the cut list.

School supporters objected to the closing, saying it represented an important anchor for the South Toledo neighborhood off Western Avenue.

But the school, with declining enrollment, was removed from the district's construction and renovation master plan several years ago. Closing it would have saved Toledo Public Schools $1.3 million.

It was part of a longer list of cuts put together by Superintendent John Foley and his staff that were to take place next fiscal year regardless of the levy's fate.

After the 0.75 percent income tax levy failed in a landslide Tuesday, Ms. Hill told The Blade she felt Libbey would be closed after all. But school administration and other board members corrected her, confirming the vote was not connected to the levy's fate.

Still, board member Larry Sykes said Wednesday he wants to revisit the entire budget, including the fate of Libbey and all cuts scheduled to take place because the levy failed.

Mr. Vasquez and Ms. Sobecki said that the budget plan approved, including saving Libbey, were made in good faith prior to the levy vote and that the board should stick to the plan it outlined for the electorate.

Contact Christopher D. Kirkpatrick at:

ckirkpatrick@theblade.com

or 419-724-6134.



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