Voters in the Toledo Public Schools and Maumee City Schools defeated levies in their districts last night, but more than half of schools across northwest Ohio and southeastern Michigan had success at the polls.
Toledo s five-year, 2.5-mill tax, which school leaders were describing as a substitute for an existing levy, was defeated by a more than 2-to-1 margin. It would have raised nearly $8 million a year and cost the owner of a $75,000 home $27 more a year.
I m obviously very disappointed. We have not been successful tonight, Superintendent Eugene Sanders said last night. At this point, Mr. Sanders said he was not prepared to suggest whether voters would be asked to consider another levy. The money was needed, officials said, to pay for additional local costs incurred from the $821 million new schools construction program that is largely funded by the state of Ohio. The tax also was to be earmarked to help pay for maintenance of the district s buildings, upkeep of school buses, and the purchase of new computers.
The defeat of the tax comes in the midst of a district announcement that more than 200 layoffs are anticipated for next school year because of expected state funding decreases and a possible $13 million deficit.
Steven Flagg, a member of the Urban Coalition that opposed the levy, was not surprised by the results. This is about credibility and accountability, and I think the voters tonight sent a message to the administration and the board of education, he said.
Throughout the evening, Toledo school officials were frus-trated at the absence of election results. They were given several explanations for the delay after the polls closed, school officials said.
With the exception of Maumee schools and a Swanton parks issue, all other election results in Lucas County were still incomplete as of midnight long after all other northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan counties had reported their results. Board of elections Director Jill Kelly blamed the delay n hand tabulation of ballots. In some cases, ballots from some precincts hadn t been tabulated at all, she added.
Despite the extra work, Ms. Kelly said she stood behind the decision not to spend $318,000 of taxpayers money on equipment that would have been used for a single election.
In southern Lucas County, a Maumee City Schools request for a new 5.9-mill continuing operating levy was defeated yesterday by a wide margin.
The district sought the levy to avoid a $2.1 million deficit predicted by the end of the 2006-2007 school year.
The levy would have collected almost $3.2 million for the district in its first year. The cost for an owner of a $100,000 house was about $180 annually.
Maumee school officials said they were disappointed and somewhat surprised by the margin of defeat.
The voter turnout was a lot lower than I expected, Superintendent Greg Smith said. We feel this issue is vital not only to the future of the district, but the future of the city.
The school board and administrators will meet over the next few weeks to review budget projections. Glenn Rambo, school board president, said the district probably will put the levy back on the ballot later this year but will have to plan for cost reductions.
Unfortunately, these cuts will reduce the quality of the education we offer, Mr. Rambo said. Some of our students could start to suffer as early as next fall.
Blade staff writer Jack Baessler contributed to this report.
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