Michael D. Clark reports:
One of the region’s largest school systems is in limbo about its tax hike after unofficial vote totals late Tuesday showed a near tie.
Voters in Lakota – Southwest Ohio’s second-largest district with 17,100 students – appeared to approve that district’s levy, 50.45 percent to 49.55 percent, but that unofficial margin could change once provisional ballots are counted. If the final, certified vote later this month total has a margin of less than 0.5 percent, an automatic recount is ordered under Ohio law.
Fairfield school officials also may face a recount, though they concede their bond issue likely failed: It stood at 49.77 percent of voters for and 50.23 against, according to unofficial vote tallies.
Another defeat for Lakota would add up to seven school operating tax rejections there since 2004, exceeding the losing streak of the region’s largest school system – Cincinnati Public Schools – which suffered six consecutive levy defeats in the 1970s.
Despite the closeness of the vote and its undecided status, Lakota officials insisted on optimism.
“We’re very grateful for the support from the community. It appears the levy has been successful, and we look forward to moving the district in a positive direction,” said Lakota spokesman Randy Oppenheimer.