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The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

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A 3.95-mill operations levy for the Oregon City Schools District was passed by a big margin on Tuesday. The victory was a big win for the district, which had been unsuccessful in getting an operations levy passed since 2008.

Out of a total of 7,986 votes cast, 4,992, or 62.51 percent, were in favor of the levy, and 2,994, or 37.49 percent opposed, according to unofficial results of the Lucas County Board of Elections.

Last year, the district tried to get a 5.9-mill levy passed, but voters defeated the measure. This time, the board decided to reduce the millage in an effort to get it passed. That, along with budget cuts, may have been the key to success this time.

“We were able to reduce millage, and explained the cuts we made,” said school board Vice President Jeff Ziviski. “I think that went a very long way.”

Voters were faced with cuts in extracurricular activities and the transfer of vocational schooling from the district to Penta County Vocational School if the levy didn’t pass.

“This keeps our programs and extracurricular activities intact,” said Ziviski, who was re-elected to the board on Tuesday.

He also praised the campaign levy committee for its aggressive campaign to get the levy passed.

“They did an awesome job,” he said.

“I think the clear difference in this campaign is we were very open. There was no question about what we were raising the funds for, or what we were asking for. We wanted money to preserve our technical program and secondly, we needed money for extracurricular. That really resonated with people,” he said.

Superintendent Hal Gregory agreed.

If the levy failed, the Clay Career-Technical programs would have been shifted to a Joint Vocational School (JVS), he said. Residents would have been assessed by the county auditor an automatic unvoted 3.2-mill levy going directly to the JVS. All JVS member districts pay that amount to access the local JVS.

“We would have probably partnered with Penta and moved our career tech programs to that organization. If that were to happen, residents would have automatically received a 3.2-mill tax, and I think people believed that, if we were going to pay 3.2-mills to another institution, why not pay 3.95-mills and keep it local,” said Gregory.

The district also reduced costs by not replacing the assistant superintendent and the curriculum director, as well as two teachers who retired from Clay High School.

“We also structured and reduced overtime for classified employees. We know times are tough and nobody wants to pay taxes, but school districts under the current funding system will always need local dollars.”

“It allowed us to seek a lower millage,” said Gregory. “We said from the beginning, the lower millage is the lifeline to our future, but it’s not a one and done type of levy. We’ll need another operating levy in two to three years.”

That could change if the district receives more revenue from increased economic development in the city, he said.

“We’re excited about the economic development in our district,” he said. He cited the Oregon Clean Energy project as an example of new revenue coming into the district.

“We anticipate money with that. We have a tax abatement with them that will start in 2017. Any future development will help us.”

Most of all, the passage of the levy was uplifting to the morale of the district, he added.

“It definitely was a boost for the community. It just feels good because people supported our schools. We feel very good about that. We’ve turned the corner, we’ve come out of those tough years. We have a good positive curriculum coming out of the district, good morale, the business and other leaders are coming together and backing our schools,” he said.

Gregory also praised the levy committee for its hard work in getting the word out.

“We worked day in and day out talking with people in the community. Our levy committee was made up of several community members and parents, some were parents from the marching band. That is a big influential group in our school system. That organization was out there talking and sharing, urging support and votes for the levy. I personally went out with people, spoke to many seniors, went to senior living facilities and the senior center countless times. It’s been a wonderful relationship. It’s all those little things that added up. We certainly want to thank the residents of Oregon and Jerusalem Township for their support. We’re very honored by their vote.”

Voters also approved a new board member on Tuesday. Keith Kennedy became the newest member. He replaces Dan Saevig, who was appointed to the seat vacated by former school board president P.J. Kapfhammer, who resigned in the middle of his term. Saevig had decided not to run for the seat.

 

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The Ohio legislature has passed a bill that would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. In practice, that would make abortion illegal after six weeks.
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