Nearly all school levies pass

Fifteen of the 16 local school levies were approved Tuesday night, including three of the four asking for increased funding — and most of the votes weren’t close.

Northridge voters passed a bond issue to build a new consolidated school, while Tipp City and Bellbrook-Sugarcreek voters agreed to provide additional operating money for their schools, according to unofficial results from county boards of election.

“It’s all a go, signed and sealed by both parties,” Northridge Superintendent Dave Jackson said of the pre-K-12 complex that will be built with a $13 million local share and $42 million from the state. “A $55.5 million project in Northridge; now that is awesome,” Jackson said.

Warren County JVS

The Warren County Career Center’s request for an increase in funding was the only local levy to be rejected. Voters shot that levy down for a second straight election, this time by a wide margin. Tuesday’s ratio was 61-39.

Superintendent Maggie Hess said she was disappointed with the result after being encouraged by support from business leaders, elected officials and others during the campaign. She said low turnout combined with strong opposition to some other issues on the ballot contributed to the levy defeat.

“The board will have to meet and plan our next steps. The need for this additional funding will not go away,” Hess said. “Our aging infrastructure, undersized classrooms and labs, lack of fire suppression systems in most of the building, and emerging career fields that require trained workers will be taken into consideration as we plan for the future.”

Tipp City

Tipp City Schools’ 4.95-mill levy was the only close school levy race in the Miami Valley, passing by a 51-49 ratio. Superintendent John Kronour said the levy will help Tipp City offer more competitive salaries, so the district can attract and keep good teachers and staff.

“It’s nice sometimes to get fresh blood in, but having that continuity of people who understand the culture, understand the expectations, it’s so important in how to present the curriculum … in a way that fits our students’ needs,” Kronour said.

Kronour said Tipp City schools could be back on the ballot soon — not for more operating money, but for a bond issue like Northridge’s, where the state chips in to help build new schools. He said Tipp City is meeting with state officials on that topic Thursday.

Bellbrook-Sugarcreek

Voters easily approved Sugarcreek’s 5.5-mill replacement levy, by a 60-40 ratio. Superintendent Keith St. Pierre said the vote will keep the district fiscally stable without cutting programs, will allow the district to replace retiring teachers, and will create flexibility to give teachers a modest raise after pay freezes in four of the past six years.

“We had a projected deficit in three years, and this keeps us out of deficit spending,” he said. “I think the vote speaks well for how the community feels about our excellent schools.”

Thirty-year Bellbrook resident Jack Hudgins opposed the levy, saying an earned income tax would be more fair to seniors on fixed incomes. Marcia Rausch voted yes, saying, “if we don’t stand behind our schools, our community could go downhill.”

St. Pierre said Sugarcreek schools had not asked for increased funding in six years, and now won’t be back on the ballot in any form for multiple years.

Northridge

Despite extremely low turnout of 13.6 percent, Northridge voters approved a combination bond issue and tax levy by a 60-40 ratio.

Jackson said community input will be key over the next year as the next school complex is designed. Groundbreaking is expected in summer 2016, with hopes for students to be in the new building for the 2018-19 school year.

“I am so excited for the future of Northridge, and so thankful to the Northridge community for once again showing their support and believing in the school system,” Jackson said. “We’re going to be able to provide our kids the very best.”

Roger Hoskins voted no, saying his taxes had doubled and he didn’t feel the schools had delivered on past promises. Robyn Farmer voted yes, saying Northridge’s old schools need significant updating.

Renewal levies

While “new-money” levies are often a toss-up, renewals that feature no tax increase usually pass at about a 95 percent clip. Tuesday was no different.

In Greene County, Beavercreek and Xenia had huge renewals on the ballot that account for about 25 percent of their budget. Beavercreek’s 10.9-mill levy passed by a 54-46 ratio. Both of Xenia’s renewals — an 11.75-mill property tax levy plus a 0.5 percent income tax — passed by 59-41 ratios. Yellow Springs’ 8.05-mill renewal passed by an overwhelming 88-12 ratio.

In Miami County, Troy’s 5.9-mill renewal passed by a 69-31 ratio, while Bethel’s 0.75 percent earned income tax renewal passed 59-41.

In Montgomery County, voters agreed to renew both of Brookville’s 8.5-mill levies and make them permanent, with both measures getting at least 66 percent of the vote. Valley View voters made the same decision — renewing two school income tax measures and making them permanent. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, both Valley View levies passed with 63 percent of the vote.

Voters overwhelmingly agreed to make Kettering’s 4.9-mill renewal levy permanent by a 68 to 32 ratio.

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