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AUSTINTOWN SCHOOLS Bond issue hinges on ballots yet to be counted



Published: Fri, November 9, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The issue could go back on the ballot next year if it doesn't pass.

By IAN HILL

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

AUSTINTOWN -- The fate of Austintown schools' bond issue rests with 62 township residents whose votes from Tuesday's election won't be counted until Nov. 19.

Those residents voted on provisional ballots, which under state law aren't counted until 10 days after the election. According to unofficial election results, if all 62 residents voted on the bond issue, at least 51 of the residents would have had to vote for the issue for it to pass.

Austintown Schools Superintendent Richard Denamen said the number of provisional ballots cast by township residents "gives us some hope" that the bond issue could pass.

"I feel like we're on life support," he said. "The prognosis isn't good, but there's still that hope."

What it's for: The 3.9-mill, 26-year bond issue would allow the school board to borrow $32 million to pay for the construction of a new junior high school and the renovation of Frank Ohl Middle School. The new school and the renovations would then have allowed the board to sell or demolish Austintown Middle School, which is 85 years old and in need of repair.

Recent pictures taken of the interior of Austintown Middle School show wiring hanging from ceilings, debris falling from walls, and water leaking from the school's roof.

Provisional ballots are cast by registered voters who have moved and didn't inform the Mahoning County Board of Elections of their new address until after the voter registration deadline. The ballots are held for 10 days so elections board workers can confirm that the voter is registered in Ohio.

Recount: Denamen noted that even if the bond issue does not pass as a result of the provisional ballot count, the vote totals may change during a mandatory recount. A recount is performed in every local race in Ohio where the difference between parties is less than 0.5 percent of the vote total.

Unofficial election results show the bond issue failing by 38 votes, or about 0.33 percent of the vote total. If at least 40 of the provisional ballots show votes against the bond issue, no mandatory recount will be done.

A recount would begin after the vote totals are certified by the elections board. No date has been set for the certification.

Denamen said that if the bond issue failed in Tuesday's election, the school board may ask voters to approve the issue in next year's primary or general election.

"The reason it went on in the first place hasn't changed," he said.

Denamen has said that if the bond issue fails, repairs will be made as needed.




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