Michael D. Clark reports:
It’s official – Lakota has ended a three-year series of levy defeats.
Tuesday’s official count of the Nov. 5 election – which included provisional and other votes not counted election day – saw the district’s first operating levy proposal pass since 2005 – by 287 votes out of 27,001 cast, according the official count. The Nov. 5 approval ends the longest operating levy drought in the district’s history.
School families are now waiting for details on when and how some cuts will be restored – thereby restoring some of the schools’ luster.
West Chester Township’s population is now more than 67,000; adjacent Liberty Township’s is more than 37,000. “All those people didn’t move here because we have great garbage collection,” Lakota parent Dan Colpi said. “Families moved here because of the Lakota Schools.”
Since 2010 Lakota has sliced $20.8 million from its budget. Voters approved the new money in part because they want to see some of those programs, personnel and busing cuts restored, said Colpi, a Lakota PTA president.
Lakota spokesman Randy Oppenheimer cautioned West Chester and Liberty townships parents to be mindful the levy passage – and its $13.8 million in annual revenue – won’t mean total restoration.
“A big part of our needs was to preserve what we have,” Karen Mantia, superintendent of Southwest Ohio’s second largest district, wrote in a recent statement on Lakota’s website.
School families will see an immediate benefit in the capping of sports fees required for their children to play. This school year they began paying $550 per high school sport and $350 per junior high; those are now capped at $800 per family. Next school year fees will drop to $400 per high school sport and $300 for junior high. Lakota’s 22 school buildings will see a variety of security upgrades, including heightened police presence and more electronic security devices.
In the 2014-15 school year, elementary students will also see their music, art and physical education doubled to two days a week.