Bellaire schools again taste defeat

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Voters went to the polls Tuesday and again rejected the proposed levy for Bellaire schools.

This was the eighth attempt to pass a levy in support of a new revenue source.

A total of 970 votes were cast against the levy to 751 in favor, or 56.36 percent to 43.64 percent. Only 13.25 percent of voters came out for the primary elections.

The levy would have generated new operating funds for the district for the first time in 37 years. The Ohio Department of Education has listed the district under fiscal emergency since Dec. 31, 2009.

The prior 5.9-mill levy was defeated by 200 votes during the last successive attempt.

Officials have noted massive cuts, layoffs and a reworking of the food service program, which has reduced the $3 million debt.

The levy would have generated $698,325 annually. The district had hoped the levy’s passing would allow the reinstatement of academic programs dropped during the cuts.

The initial attempts by the board dated 2010 with a request for 12.9 mills, followed by a one percent income tax in 2011. In November, voters rejected an 8.7 mill levy.

District Superintendent Tony?Scott was disappointed with the outcome.

“I”s a difficult pill to swallow,” he said. “I think this school district is on the brink of doing phenomenal things, and I hope the public understands what a great situation we have here. We have straightened things out of the fiscal side, and have made some cuts. But we want to bring back things the students desperately need.”

DeFrank can be reached at rdefrank @timesleaderonline.com.