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Published: Wednesday, 3/3/2004

4 districts receive voters' OK for funding; Genoa loses tight race

Pam Overly casts her vote at the Genoa fire station with her children. Pam Overly casts her vote at the Genoa fire station with her children.
SIMMONS / BLADE Enlarge

Voters yesterday unofficially approved four suburban Toledo school issues with the only loss a narrow defeat for Genoa schools.

Otsego Local School District voters appeared to pass a bond issue to help finance construction of a high school and remodeling of the district's three elementary schools in Haskins, Weston, and Grand Rapids.

Absentee ballots in Lucas County had not been counted last night so the results were incomplete. The district includes portions of Wood, Lucas, and Henry counties.

Voters had turned down three earlier funding requests.

Construction and upgrades for school buildings in the district have been the center of discussion for years. Voters turned down three earlier bond issues, the most recent in August.

The 6.2-mill bond issue is for 28 years and is expected to raise about $18.4 million. The district was counting on state matching funds of about $3.6 million, but that amount wouldn't become available for 10 to 15 years.

Early plans are for proceeds to first go toward the construction of a high school, which is estimated to cost about $13.9 million.

Voters defeated earlier levies because of plans to close the elementary schools in favor of one large elementary in Tontogany.

Springfield Local School District passed an issue that combined a permanent improvement levy and a bond issue for improvements to the district's buildings.

“We're thrilled. It's difficult to pass any levy on the first try,'' said school board member Keiran Menacher, “even though the issue won't cost residents any more money.”

Ms. Menacher said board members have been discussing improvements to the system's buildings, “and now we'll need to finalize the plans.”

Voters agreed to a 1.35-mill levy that will replace a 1.9-mill expiring levy. The expiring levy raises about $965,000 annually, and the new levy will get about the same because of recently increased property valuations.

The new bond issue should raise about $9.25 million, according to Robert Moellenberg, treasurer of Springfield Local Schools.

Northwood Local School District will undergo improvements because voters there approved a 2.5-mill renewal levy for five years for permanent improvements.

The measure should raise close to $250,000 annually.

Superintendent Ron Matter said the heating system at Lark Elementary School will be replaced and that most buildings need replacement of some windows, floor tiles, improved lighting, and parking lot repair.

Genoa Area Local School District voters narrowly defeated a levy request for 6.4-mills for operating expenses. The levy would have raised about $980,000, according to Dennis Mock, superintendent.

Mr. Mock said he hopes a recount will produce a different result. “We knew it would be close,” he said.

Before the election, the superintendent said a defeat would force the district to cut about $1.4 million from its budget. He said that likely would mean laying off 10 to 15 teachers and at least eight other employees.

Mr. Mock said the district will have to consider charging students for participation in extracurricular activities.

Evergreen Local School District voters approved a request for a 0.75 percent income tax increase for school operations.

The district has such a tax in place and passage raises the income tax rate to 1.5 percent. Voters twice rejected proposed increases of 0.5 percent, in May and November.

The levy will raise about $900,000 annually for operations. School officials said the increase is necessary because of cuts in funding from the state.

“It's just fabulous. I couldn't feel fetter for the kids of Evergreen schools,” Superintendent Kenneth Jones said.



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