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Published: Wednesday, 11/29/2006

Final vote count gives Bowling Green schools a win

BLADE STAFF

Bowling Green City Schools got a pleasant surprise yesterday after the Wood County Board of Elections counted the 647 provisional and overseas ballots cast in the school district.

A $27.5 million bond issue that appeared to have failed on election night actually was approved, 5,291 to 5,065, when the Nov. 7 votes were certified yesterday.

But the news wasn't the same for COSI Toledo in Lucas County. A 0.167-mill, five-year levy for the hands-on science museum was officially defeated, 71,249 to 70,001.

In other close elections across northwest Ohio, results for the Eastwood Local School District and Maumee City Schools also were unchanged with levies passing in both districts.

In Bowling Green, the 28-year, 2.93-mill bond issue will pay for an auditorium and junior high school to replace the one built in 1925.

"As someone who has spent his whole life in education, I'm so excited because I know the real possibilities that exist out there for our students," said Superintendent Hugh Caumartin.

"I'm especially happy for the staff who has put together a magnificent program at the junior high despite the building."

Mr. Caumartin said it likely would be three years before seventh and eighth graders will move into the new school, which is to be built at the high school campus on West Poe Road.

The auditorium, which would be built at the same site, will serve students as well as the community, Mr. Caumartin said.

"I think this is something that can be a showcase for Bowling Green," he said.

In Wood County, results for neither the Bowling Green nor Eastwood schools were close enough yesterday to warrant an automatic recount, said John Miller, chairman of the Wood County Board of Elections.

Though the Eastwood district has been operating as if its income tax had passed earlier this month, Superintendent Brent Welker said he was breathing a little easier after its passage was made official yesterday.

Unofficial results on election night showed the district's five-year, 1 percent income tax had passed by just a slight margin, but more than 60 provisional ballots had yet to be tallied.

Official results certified yesterday revealed the tax passed, 2,137 to 2,098.

Yet even with the tax's approval, Mr. Welker said the district is still working to reduce the district's bottom line by $500,000 this school year by deferring capital investments and holding strict limits on spending.

Because the levy passed, he said the Eastwood school board will soon be rescinding two resolutions created at its October board meeting.

One eliminated a shopping list of 28 items - most of them positions and programs that do not directly relate to state-required programs. The other instituted participation fees for middle and high school students to pay for the programs.

In response to the COSI Toledo defeat, Dr. F. Michael Walsh, chairman of the board, said the children's museum will have about $25,000 to close out the year and that board members hope to raise about $500,000 in private donations.

Dr. Walsh said that if the board raises enough money to underwrite an election, it may consider returning to voters during a May election. Until then, the board plans to work with the city of Toledo on insurance costs for the building and the utility companies about payment plans.

"If we can raise the money, we'll go to the voters. If we can't raise the money, forget it," he said.

Also in Lucas County, a 0.75-mill, permanent improvement levy for Maumee schools held onto its slim advantage from Nov. 7 and passed by 79 votes.

The bond issue was approved 3,636 to 3,557, and is not eligible for a recount.

"We're very appreciative of the continued support of the community," Superintendent Greg Smith said. "I understand the dilemma all taxpayers feel, but this is what schools have to do to fund the costs of educating our children."

Staff writers Erica Blake, Jennifer Feehan, Erika Ray, and Joe Vardon contributed to this report.



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