Voters in Springboro passed a renewal levy tied to almost 20 percent of the district’s operating budget and elected three school board members expected to redirect the district in Tuesday’s election.
According to unofficial, election-night totals, the five-year, 8.78 mill levy, expected to raise $7.9 million a year for operating expenses passed easily. It was the first school levy to win voter approval in Springboro since the last renewal in March 2008.
Two former local educators, Ron Malone and Dave Stuckey, and Charles Anderson, a former board member, won a heated board race expected to change the board’s voting majority and philosophical direction for the next two years.
“We’ve got a whole new direction our district is going to be moving in. That’s only for the better,” parent Mary Johnson said, also noting passage of a levy for additional funding for the library. “I’m thrilled with the support that this community showed for the kids today.”
The current board has attracted criticism from residents and national attention in response to proposals to bring creationism and other controversial topics into local classrooms.
The school board race pitted David Bitner and Kolton Vaughn, a ticket aligned with and backed by the board’s conservative majority, against Malone, Stuckey and Anderson, a trio pledging to redirect the district in a “more moderate mainstream direction.”
The race heated up last week when the two board members not in the election, Jim Rigano and David Petroni, created a new slate, Bitner-Vaughn-Anderson, complete with yard signs, but without the candidates’ knowledge.
Anderson said the deceptive tactics would hurt relations on the new board.
“How is that going to work when the three new board members get on the board?” said Anderson, a funeral home owner.
Petroni and Rigano said they created their slate in recognition of Anderson’s “business acumen.” Anderson said it confused voters and violated the spirit of ethics and fair play — if not the letter of Ohio law.
In response, the Malone, Stuckey and Anderson campaign filed a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission — its second complaint of the race.
Bitner and Vaughn ran on a platform calling for the continuation of conservative policies adopted since Rigano and Petroni joined Kelly Kohls on the board two years ago.
Bitner and Vaughn issued a statement distancing themselves from the slate created by Rigano and Petroni. “We would also like to clarify that we have never endorsed or been affiliated in any way with a third candidate.”
The levy campaign supporting the renewal — with a reduction — was relatively low key.
Still supporters were relieved by approval. It had been more than two years since the board had put a levy on the ballot.
“It really helped that the school board was united in support of this levy. There has been a divided school board in the past. That has made it very difficult,” said Sarah Hall, a parent and president of Neighbors for Springboro Schools, the levy committee.
Since 2008, district voters had rejected five consecutive levies for new operating money.
The renewal is expected to cost the owner of a $100,000 home $307 per year. Because the board rolled back the millage, it will save property owners $46 a year for every $100,000 of property value — and raise about $1.3 million a year less than the previous issue.
“That was certainly one of the factors that helped this pass,” Hall said.
Bitner, Vaughn, Rigano and Petroni could not be reached Tuesday night. Kohls, who did not seek re-election, declined comment.
SPRINGBORO COMMUNITY CITY SCHOOLS
Year-end enrollment: 5,463
State report card indicators met for 2011-12: 24 of 24.
Previous state report card ratings: “Excellent with Distinction” for 2011-12, 2010-11, 2009-10, 2008-09, 2007-08, “Excellent” in 2006-07.
Administrators’ average salary: $74,307 (State average $76,037)
Classroom teachers’ average salary: $54,245 (State average: $57,904)
Expenditure per pupil: $7,812
Revenue per pupil: $8,095
SOURCES: OHIO DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION (FY 2012), SPRINGBORO SCHOOLS, WARREN COUNTY AUDITOR