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Published: Thursday, 5/10/2007

Ballot success eludes schools in 3 Ohio cities


Voters rejected school levies in three major Ohio cities, raising the possibility of hundreds of layoffs and other deep cuts, while voters in one county approved the state's first countywide sales tax to fund schools.

About 54 percent of the 164 school issues around the state passed in Tuesday's elections.

That's down from the 59 percent passage rate in May, 2006.

In Dayton, voters defeated a levy that school officials said was needed to avoid a $30 million deficit during the upcoming school year.

Superintendent Percy Mack predicted the district will have to cut 600 jobs, including about 400 teachers, and possibly close three schools.

"This is a sad day for public education in Dayton," said Mr. Mack, who oversees the 16,000-student district that employs 3,500 people, including 1,300 teachers.

In Canton, voters turned down an 8-mill operating levy that will leave city schools with a deficit of nearly $10 million by the end of next school year.

School officials said layoffs are certain in the 10,600-student district.

And, in Middletown, in southwest Ohio, officials with the 6,700-student district said they will have to cut about $7 million from the budget and eliminate high school busing, athletic programs, and about 100 jobs after an emergency operating levy there failed.

Meanwhile, voters in Medina County approved the state's first countywide sales tax to fund schools, a proposal developed by the seven school districts in the northeast Ohio county as an alternative to traditional property-tax based levies.

The Black River, Brunswick, Buckeye, Cloverleaf, Highland, Medina, and Wadsworth school districts will use a formula based on enrollment to divide money generated by the 0.5 percent sales tax.

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