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Published: Wednesday, 8/7/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Swanton school levy falls short again

Perkins Local Schools’ attempt to pass 6.73-mill measure also fails

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Richard Richie, left, and Michael Richie of Swanton vote during a special election on Tuesday at the American Legion building. Richard Richie, left, and Michael Richie of Swanton vote during a special election on Tuesday at the American Legion building.
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SWANTON — Voters in two northwest Ohio school districts soundly defeated issues on the special election ballot Tuesday — one a bond issue to leverage state money for a building project; another an additional levy for the emergency needs.

The bid by Swanton Local Schools, in Fulton and Lucas counties, for a 35-year, 3.9-mill bond issue to generate $13.5 million for construction, plus a 0.5-mill continuing maintenance levy, failed 1,624-994, according to unofficial results. That same proposal was defeated in May.

In the Perkins Local Schools of Erie County, voters turned down a 10-year, 6.73-mill levy by 2,482-2,142, also unofficial.

Before the election, Perkins Superintendent Jim Gunner said he expected the Board of Education to move quickly to place another levy on the November ballot if the question failed Tuesday.

MORE SPECIAL ELECTION NEWS: Mixed results for Michigan levies

The Swanton district returned to the ballot with a bond-tax levy combination to pay the local share of a proposed prekindergarten through sixth-grade building on the high school campus. Owners of a $100,000 home would have paid $110 a year. Two existing buildings would have been torn down or offered for sale.

The state of Ohio’s offer to pay the remaining costs of the $25 million project expired with this election.

“I truly don’t believe there was anything different that could have been done to have changed the outcome. It just wasn’t meant to be right now,” Swanton Superintendent Jeff Schlade said in a statement.

“The Board did its due diligence in giving the taxpayers every opportunity to accept or reject the state’s offer to give back tax dollars to co-fund the project, and both times the voters told us and the state, ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’ The voters want us to explore a different path.”

He said that the “board and administration will begin the process of assessing and analyzing the current reality of the district and go from there.”

Jeff Michael, a former school board president who opposed the plan, said the board didn’t look into other options, such as redistributing grades to under-used parts of the high school.

“The thing is the people spoke one time, in May, and they spoke pretty loudly then,” Mr. Michael said. “To come back with [the same proposal], the people are getting little bit fed up.”

In the Perkins district, voters in May turned down a 4.98-mill levy, but the district asked for an increased rate to raise more than $2.7 million because of falling state funding and property valuation. The latest levy would have cost the owner of a $150,000 house about $309 a year. The district laid off teachers in March and May.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.



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