Voters in Mercer, Auglaize counties
OK school issues
From STAFF REPORTS
School district voters in Mercer and Auglaize counties passed
all school levies to help balance budgets and offset million-dollar
reduction plans that included layoffs, no sports and limited
The levies in the area passed by 59 percent for Celina, 63 percent
for St. Henry and St. Marys and 62 percent for Parkway.
Property and income tax issues were on the ballot in 207 of
the state’s 612 school districts, 10 of which put two
issues on the ballot. The Department of Education said only
two elections in the past 10 years have had more ballot issues.
Many school officials are blaming state cuts in school funding
for why their districts had to ask voters from more money.
In the Lima area, school levies passed for Allen East, Shawnee,
Lima city, Bluffton and Delphos schools, but failed in the Bath
In the last decade, Ohio voters faced 4,369 school issues and
approved 2,515, a passing rate of 58 percent. Statewide results
for Tuesday’s election were expected later today.
Celina City Schools
A new 9.7-mill operating levy passed strongly in all but five
of the 21 precincts involved. Vote count was 3,608 for the levy
and 2,491 against.
Voters nixed the levy in Center, Liberty, Franklin East and
West and Washington townships.
The levy will generate $2.65 million per year for the next three
years. If the levy had failed, the school board was planning
$1.8 million in immediate cuts, which included cutting all extracurricular
activities. The district already made $790,300 in cuts to keep
the budget in line after reductions in state funding.
“The community is willing to do what they have to do,
even though they don’t understand all the nuts and bolts
of school funding,” school board President Mary Lehman
Amid hugs and high fives at the Mercer County Courthouse on
Tuesday night, teachers, administrators and friends of the district
congratulated each other after the short but powerful levy campaign.
“I am absolutely elated for the district and for the community.
Passing this levy allows us time to assess our needs and resources
as we continue with budget reductions and analyzing priorities,”
district Superintendent Fred Wiswell said.
St. Marys City Schools
Voters overwhelmingly ap-proved a new 7.9-mill property tax
by a 63-37 percent vote. The levy will generate about $1.8 million
annually for five years.
“We are delighted with the turnout,” Superintendent
Paul Blaine said Tuesday night. “Today the St. Marys voters
did what they have done consistently for over 100 years. They
supported their children.”
The vote marked a complete reversal of the November 2003 election,
when a 1 percent income tax levy was defeated by a 61-39 percent
count. That levy would have generated approximately $2.1 million.
“I heard more positive things about this levy and felt
more confident,” Blaine said. “I think one of the
keys was people saw how significant the cuts would be.”
If the levy had failed, school board members were planning $5.1
million in staffing and curriculum cuts. Those cuts included
a reduction in transportation for about 1,150 students and closing
Noble Elementary School.
The levy passed in all 14 voting precincts with the exception
of St. Marys City fourth ward, where it failed by a 191-124
vote, and in Moulton Township where it lost 111-113.
Moulton Elementary School, which board members already decided
will close at the end of the school year, was among the $3.6
million in cuts made in January.
“It’s not easy to face the closing of a school,”
Blaine said. “But people of the Moulton community have
handled it in a reasonable manner.”
St. Henry Consolidated
After defeating the school levy in November, St. Henry voters
gave thumbs up Tuesday to the school district’s new 9.52-mill
operating levy, which will generate $730,000 per year for five
Although the vote hung at a 59-59 vote tie for most of the evening,
late tallies put the levy ahead 1,093 to 615 in Mercer County,
with only the Butler Township precinct voting against the levy.
The school district’s two precincts in Darke County also
rejected the levy 44-42, which was not enough to change the
“Wow! This is a huge relief. It’s been a long four
months for all of us. A lot of people have done a lot of work
on this campaign,” district Superintendent Rod Moorman
said Tuesday night at the courthouse as the final votes came
“We still have cuts to make. But now we have a little
time to look at where we are and what needs to be done,”
School board members already cut $649,991 this school year due
to unanticipated reductions in school funding.
Parkway Local Schools
Superintendent Doug Karst said he was feeling “pretty
good” this morning, following renewal of the school district’s
1.5-mill levy for permanent improvements.
“It was pretty suspenseful last night and I wish the results
would have come in quicker. I listened over the radio until
about 10:30 p.m. and it sounded like we were in pretty good
shape, but I didn’t know for sure until this morning that
the levy had passed,” he said.
The final tally showed 829 votes (62.8 percent) for the levy
and 502 votes (37.72 percent) against.
The levy failed in the Mendon village and Union Township precincts.
The five-year levy will bring in approximately $103,000 annually
for improvements or purchases, such as buses and computers.
“This is going to help the district. It is money we have
counted on in the past,” Karst said, cautioning that he
still sees tough times ahead for the district.
“At this point we haven’t had to ask for any new
operating money, but somewhere in the future I can see that
happening. We’re trying to postpone that as long as we
can. If the state were to come through, maybe we won’t
have to, but that doesn’t seem to be the norm,”
— The Associated Press contributed to this story.