“Certainly the idea of school security is on everybody’s mind and I haven’t heard one school resident say they would not vote for it,” said Sprague.
The previous security town hall meeting at Hamilton’s central office drew an overflow crowd in August.
Hamilton Schools Superintendent Larry Knapp went through a 30-minute presentation on the proposed tax, which would raise $1.2 million dollars for enhanced security during its decade of collection.
Hamilton is one of five Butler County school districts who have formed a single taxing district as now allowed under Ohio law to place the security tax levy on the ballot. Joining Hamilton are Fairfield, Edgewood, Monroe and New Miami school districts.
If voters in a school system do not approve the new tax — but the tax wins voter approval in other participating districts — residents in the district where the tax was defeated will still have to pay the tax increase and will also receive the new funds for their local schools.
Knapp said the new state law provides the 10,000-student with a historically unique opportunity to make schools safer.
Society has changed in recent years and so to are the problems students bring to schools, said Knapp.
“We have to deal with threats of violence and violent activity,” he said.
He echoed officials from other participating districts who say while adding more armed guards to schools is a key component of the new tax funding, the addition of mental health counselors, which is also allowed under the new tax, is paramount.
If the levy is approved by voters, during its 10-year life 35 percent or $412,600 of the total revenue of $1.2 million collected for Hamilton Schools would go to school mental health programs.
The remaining distribution of the funds would be $565,052, or 47 percent, to pay for more armed, school resource officers in schools and $213,050, or 18 percent, for security technology upgrades including cameras, sensors and other safety equipment.
“The need is real and we’ve gone 25 years without asking for a new operating levy,” said Knapp.
If approved by Hamilton residents on the Nov. 6 ballot — and a combined majority of voters in four other school districts — the 1.5-mill property tax increase would on average cost the owner of a $100,000 home an annual increase of $52.
Two more town hall meetings about the levy and school security issues are scheduled:
- 7 p.m. Oct. 16 at the Booker T. Washington Community Center, 1149 S. Front St.
- 7 p.m. Oct. 23 at Lindenwald United Methodist Church, 3501 Pleasant Ave.