Springboro school levy passes

Springboro Schools voters passed an 8.78-mill renewal levy, 76 percent to 24 percent, according to election results Tuesday night.

Also, winning three seats on the school board were Charles Anderson, Ronald Malone and David Stuckey. David Bitner and Kolton Vaughn came in fourth and fifth in vote counts.

The levy should raise $7.9 million a year for operations, according to the Warren County Auditor’s Office.

The board, which has avoided levies for more than two years, put the renewal on the ballot after reducing the amount by more than 1 mill. The reduced levy would cost property owners $307.30 for every $100,000 of property value - $46 less than the full renewal, according to the auditor’s office.

“We do need that money,” Board President Kelly Kohls said at an Oct. 10 meeting.

Kohls’ support was crucial, not only signaling a united board after years in opposition to levies, but resulting in anti-tax forces that opposed prior levies backing the reduced renewal, Issue 14 on ballots.

Jack Chrisman, who has opposed recent tax issues in Springboro and Lebanon school districts, said he supports Issue 14, in part due to Kohls’ position. Chrisman also complimented the board on the levy reduction.

“The school board has done such a good job with the money,” Chrisman added. “It’s a good thing for the people.”

The board recently reached contracts with teachers including raises, after freezing wages as part of budget cutting that has turned projected multi-million dollar deficits into comfortable surpluses through 2017 – assuming the renewal passes.

Teacher and administrative costs are below state averages, while Springboro students continue to excel compared to students in other districts. Per-pupil spending is among the lowest in the area.

The district’s five-year budget forecast includes busing for all grades and $2.1 million for new buses; $2 million for textbooks, $1.1 million on technology to support curriculum, including online courses; as well as $3.7 million for capital needs and deferred maintenance.

If voters reject the renewal, which would account for about 18 percent of the district budget, the district projects a $6.5 million deficit in the school year beginning in July 2014.

School board race

Springboro voters will elect three new school board members in today’s election, potentially unseating the conservative majority behind many of the changes and controversies in the district over the past two years.

While balancing the budget and embarking on new curriculum initiatives, the current board drew negative nationwide publicity with discussion of bringing creationism and a religious interpretation of the U.S. Constitution into classrooms.

Five candidates, aligned in two tickets, are running for seats held by board President Kelly Kohls and members Don Miller and Wendy Kull, who are not seeking re-election.

David Bitner and Kolton Vaughn, two candidates with no previous connections with the board, are running on a ticket advocating a continuation of conservative policies adopted since Jim Rigano and David Petroni joined Kohls on the board two years ago.

Charles Anderson, a former school board member, Ron Malone, a former high school principal, and Dave Stuckey, a former teacher and coach, comprise the other ticket running on a platform calling for a return to a “more moderate mainstream direction.”

Neither Kohls, Rigano, Petroni or Kull has publicly endorsed any candidates. But Kohls circulated nominating petitions for Bitner and Vaughn. And although three seats are open, Rigano, during a recent board meeting, urged voters to elect two board members without naming his favored candidates.

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