Tuesday’s election results yielded a new school board member and the passage of a tax levy for the Mount Vernon public schools, while the failure of a tax levy in East Knox County will mean extensive cuts for an already suffering school district.
New school board member Mary Rugola-Dye won approximately 38% of the vote with her campaign. Steven Thompson, the incumbent candidate, will remain on the school board with a plurality 39% of the vote.
Thompson managed to hold on to his position despite criticism of his alleged support of John Freshwater, a middle school teacher dismissed in 2010 for teaching creationism in his biology classroom.
Mount Vernon’s $890,000 levy passed with 60% support. As a result, Mount Vernon schools will be able to invest further in building maintenance, transportation, technology and textbooks.
“We are incredibly grateful to the community for their continued financial support,” Superintendent Bill Seder wrote in an email. “We realize that we need to honor that support by continuing to be fiscally responsible while providing an excellent education for all students.”
The Mount Vernon levy’s success is in sharp contrast to nearby school district East Knox County Schools’ levy, which failed on Tuesday by a margin of 108 votes. The failure could mean dire consequences for East Knox County Schools and Kenyon professors whose children are enrolled in East Knox, as the district struggles to provide a viable education for students.
“We were facing fiscal emergency if it didn’t pass, and it didn’t pass and here we are,” Steve Larcomb, superintendent of East Knox County Schools, said. Professors with students in East Knox might now face decisions about transferring their students to Mount Vernon schools or remaining in East Knox.
In an effort to move forward, East Knox will now begin to receive financial help from the state of Ohio, which will likely force East Knox to take out loans and make class and faculty cuts. “We’ll have to pay back loans while we are still trying to pay our bills,” Larcomb said. “This [levy] was our last chance.”