Area students get unfortunate civics lesson
No social studies teacher could have designed a better lesson plan on the duties of citizenship than that presented by the defeat of school levies in the Poland and Canfield school districts and of bond measures in the Austintown and Jackson-Milton school districts. Particularly in Poland, where only four votes marked the failure rather than success of a 3.9-mill additional levy, the concept of "one vote does make a difference" could be no better taught.
Because of the closeness of the Poland school levy, an automatic recount will be undertaken if the official result remains the same.
The unofficial numbers suggest a high likelihood that in an election with higher voter turnout -- the general election in November, for example -- the Poland School District might overcome its vote deficit should the results be unchanged after the recount. But in Canfield where a 6.9-mill levy attained only 42 percent of the vote or in the Jackson-Milton School District where a bond measure for a new school couldn't pick up 25 percent of the vote or in Austintown where 52 percent of the electorate voted against the school bonds, a favorable outcome is less certain.
No new taxes
The schools weren't alone in facing disappointment. In Mahoning County, any measure that would increase the tax burden on residents was defeated. Only the WRTA's 2-mill renewal and Poland Township's 2-mill renewal withstood the anti-tax sentiment.
Nowhere was this more apparent than the trouncing of a 1.8-mill bond issue for the Boardman Township Park District. By a 7-to-1 margin, Boardman voters rejected the idea of a new community center, with many voters citing their fear that passage of the tax would prevent a Boardman school levy from being passed in the fall and others objecting to the building of a public facility when construction of a new YMCA facility had already begun.
In Trumbull County, the schools were luckier, with renewal levies passing in both the Girard and Champion school districts. Girard voters obviously paid more attention to the rising proficiency scores of the community's children than they did to the still-unresolved problems with the construction of the new intermediate school there.
The only county-wide levy -- one that would also increase property taxes but by only 1 mill -- for Trumbull LifeLines lost by 3 percent of the vote. The agency, formerly called the Trumbull County Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board, provides clinical services to about 10,000 people each year and preventive services for about 20,000 through 28 programs. After a similar levy was defeated last year, LifeLines cut $1 million from its budget. The loss this year will necessitate additional cuts and therefore a lower level of service or delays in obtaining service.
The education of a community's children and help for the less fortunate are important responsibilities of citizenship. In the long term, neglecting either will have deleterious effects.