“By asking our communities to support student safety and well-being, we can bridge the gap for more than 28,000 students in Butler County for the next decade,” he said.
Issue 2 is radically different — in terms of electoral requirements for approval — than traditional, single-school district levies.
To pass, the total vote from all five districts must add up to a simple majority.
If voters in a school system do not approve the new tax — but the tax wins voter approval in other participating districts — residents in the district where the tax was defeated will still have to pay the tax increase and will also receive the new funds for their local schools.
If the tax issue does win a 50 percent combined vote tally from all five districts — plus one vote or more — the property increase will cost on average about $52 more in annual school taxes for the owner of a $100,000 home in Hamilton, Fairfield, Monroe, Edgewood and New Miami districts.
School officials throughout Southwest Ohio and beyond will be closely watching the levy’s outcome to see if this new tax option is a viable one.
Issue 2 has also made history by drawing extraordinary opposition, most notably from Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones, who has sharply criticized the tax hike as a “money grab” by the five participating districts, contending they each have existing funds now to pay for enhanced security.
Larry Knapp, superintendent of the 10,000-student Hamilton Schools, echoed officials in the other four districts who emphasized the importance of the tax funding mental health counselors for troubled students who might be prone to violence.
“We need to do more to help the children in need, and we hope the community will support these efforts. Hamilton tax money will stay in Hamilton. Money from this levy can only be spent on safety related issues, including mental health, security personnel - in our case Hamilton City Police as (armed) school resource officers and other safety related items,” said Knapp.
Russ Fussnecker, superintendent of Edgewood Schools, said “national and local safety and security experts all agree the single most important component, in addressing school safety concerns, is servicing the mental health needs of its students.”
In the largely rural district, passage of Issue 2, said Fussnecker, would “fund an increase in school professionals who have expertise in working with students who need mental health services.”