West Clermont to pursue levy next year

Unwilling to capitulate after voters rejected last week’s bond issue, the West Clermont Board of Education is taking immediate action to ensure that it passes in a special election next February.

“The levy fell short by only 80 votes,” said a disappointed superintendent Gary Brooks. “Our role as elected people on the board is to provide the necessary resources to the students in the school district and then to manage them wisely. The board understands that no one wants higher taxes, but the need is not going to go away.”

In fact, constructions costs will only increase as the buildings continue to deteriorate, Brooks said.

Since the margin of defeat was less than one percent (9,959 for, 10,039 against), there will be an automatic recount; the votes will not be officially certified until Nov. 28. By that time, all provisional and absentee ballots will have also been tallied.

“Being the eternal optimist that I am, it is not over until it is over,” Brooks said. “We will continue holding on to hope. But in the event that the ballots yet to be counted do not secure a win, the board stands united in returning the bond to voters early next year.”

At its regular Nov. 9 meeting, the board passed the first of two resolutions required to return the exact same 2.5 mill bond issue to voters in a special February election.

This immediate action regarding the same levy issue will allow the board to avoid re-applying to the Department of Taxation or the Ohio Department of Education.

In this first step, the board has directed Treasurer Alana Cropper to send the board’s unanimously passed resolution to the county auditor for re-certification.

Once that has been completed, the board will pass a second resolution at a special Nov. 20 meeting certifying Cropper to submit the resolution to the Board of Elections, thereby ensuring that it is on the ballot for a February special election (which the board must pay for).

“From my point of view, we have to do this,” president JoAnn Beamer said. “It is not a question of if, but when. We have built a lot of support for this levy and we must act while the momentum is still strong. It would be irresponsible of this board not to do absolutely everything possible to pass this levy. The vote was too close for us to accept defeat – our students are too deserving of this.”

Had the bond passed, it would have provided $3.2 million a year to build four new elementary schools in the next three years; those being Amelia, Summerside, Withamsville, and Brantner.

The 2.5 mill bond issue, when it re-appears on a special February election ballot, will cost the $100,000 homeowner a total of $76.56 per year.

“These schools are literally falling down around the students,” said board vice-president Barbara Hartman. “We want to serve the community and do right by the students in the West Clermont school district. We do not ask for a levy until a pressing need is there. It is not like we are going out there and asking for money just because we feel like doing so; we have never done that at West Clermont. There is a real and urgent need for these new schools. Our students are the ones that suffer and will continue to do so unless this levy passes. We are not going to give up.”

The board is holding a public meeting for the community at the Union Township Civic Center Monday Nov. 20 to discuss the bond levy and the special election.

Board member Douglas Young said that he wants to hear from the people in the community and is encouraging all interested parties to attend or to voice their opinion by calling the district’s hotline at (513) 943-6444.