Voters reject West Clermont operational levy

West Clermont Local School District will continue to fight financial battles and be forced to make more cuts after voters made it clear that they did not want to accept a 7.9 mill levy for the district.

“It is very disheartening to see the opportunities we aren’t able to provide for kids,” Superintendent Dr. Gary Brooks said about the levy’s failure. “It makes you think about what will happen.”

The levy failed with 60.42 percent of voters opposing the levy and 39.58 percent of voters in favor of the levy.

Brooks said that while the levy had more supporters than it had in the May election, when it failed with 60.22 percent of voters against the levy and 39.78 percent of voters in favor of the levy, there were more total voters Nov. 8.

“I was disappointed we were not able to close the gap from the percentages in May,” Dr. Brooks said. “We had a great grass roots effort, clearly it wasn’t enough to overcome a substantial margin of defeat.”

And while Dr. Brooks said the district was aware that it would be difficult to pass the levy in the rough economic climate, he also knows that the district has been forced to make $52 million in cuts in the last seven years and is already operating at the state minimum in many areas.

“We are teetering on the edge of the state coming in and taking control,” Dr. Brooks said before the election.

Already the district has cut more than 220 positions, raised fees for club and sports participation and reduce transportation to the state minimum, which has caused traffic issues and other complications for students and residents alike.

The school board decided to put the levy back on the ballot for November and voted to return transportation to normal beginning in January and lower prices for extra-curricular activities in the 2012-2013 school year if they levy passed.

Now that the levy has failed, Dr. Brooks said the district will face an additional $5 million in cuts for the 2012-2013 school year. He said this will mean eliminating more positions and reducing even more opportunities for students.

Dr. Brooks said making cuts, taking opportunities away from students and asking residents to pass a levy are things no superintendent would want to do, but at this point the district has no choice.

“You have options to cut and to ask,” Dr. Brooks said. “That is the nature of funding in the state.”