Community Members React To Failure Of Trimble Schools Levy

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The day after the Trimble Local School District’s school levy failed, community members shared their reasons for supporting or opposing the issue. Despite their differences, several agreed on one thing — there needs to be a better way to support schools.

“I am disappointed, but I knew it was going to be close,” said L.R. Faires, 52, of Glouster.

The levy, which lost by 16 votes, passed in Millfield by two votes, Jacksonville by five votes and in Trimble Village by three votes. It failed in Glouster by one vote and in Trimble Twp. by 29 votes. It was a tie in Ames Twp.

Just 25 percent of the registered voters of those communities cast a ballot, a common turnout in a primary election, according to the Athens County Board of Elections.

Faires, who has both a daughter and a nephew enrolled in the district, voted for the levy.

“I totally understand the people that voted against it,” Faires said. “Times are tight. Some of the people who voted against it came up to me and said, ‘I’m for the kids, I just can’t afford it.’ And I appreciate that. I’m trying to be fair. I just think that if people really thought about it, they would have looked at it more favorably.”

The county auditor’s office had estimated for a person who owns the $50,000 home, the increase would have been $78.75 per year. That would have amounted to a 22-cent per day increase on the tax bill.

“It don’t sound like a lot of money, but at the end of the month, if you’re on a fixed income and you have four quarters left and you need a loaf of bread, that’s a lot. I don’t begrudge people for voting no,” Faires continued.

Faires went on to say he understands the complexities of asking a population to vote on an imperfect system, referring to the state’s Supreme Court ruling in 1997 that ruled Ohio’s school funding model unconstitutional.

“Nothing being done about that,” he added. “The one person who I think is trying really hard is Rep. Debbie Phillips.”

Jay Ward, 35, of Glouster, said he also would prefer the school seek funding another way. Although he didn’t vote in Tuesday’s primary election, he said he was glad the levy didn’t pass.

“I own several homes in Jacksonville and Glouster,” Ward said, who has two children enrolled in the district. “But there are no jobs around. Times are tough, and there was no end in site on this tax levy. I’m sure if they would have compromised, instead of saying we’ll let you know when it’s over, they would have had a better outcome.”

To move forward, Faires said he doesn’t think putting it back on the ballot in November is a good idea.

“I think we need to pressure the state a little bit,” Faires said.

Supt. Kim Jones had previously said the district wouldn’t be available for funds from the Ohio School Facilities Commission again until 2023.

“If that money is there, I would hope we could get Columbus to understand that we need the help now and not wait until 2023.”

“We will figure it out,” Faires continued. “I guarantee it. Our children will graduate from Trimble High School. It’ll be a struggle and a hardship, but we will get over this.”

The last operating levy for Trimble district passed in 1976. A five-year income tax levy in 1993 was not renewed when it expired.