The Sandusky school board can set aside its budget ax as voters approved a 5.4-mill operating levy Tuesday.
"I'm going home and going to bed," superintendent Bill Pahl said. "I can finally relax."
According to unofficial results, 3,971 votes (56.58 percent) were cast in favor of the levy, which will generate $2.7 million annually for the schools.
Without the levy, the district would have been forced to cut 40 staff positions, reduce programs to state minimums, increase elementary class sizes, initiate pay-to-participate fees for sports, music programs and clubs, reduce bus service to state minimums, reduce support staff and reduce Advance Placement, foreign language and other low-enrollment classes at the junior high and high schools.
The same levy was defeated by a vote of 1,269 to 1,109 in May, when only 17 percent of registered voters in Erie County turned out. The board cut 13 teaching positions as a result.
To avoid any further cuts, a levy committee chaired by Judy Corso and Martha Murray met every Wednesday night for more than two months, planning ways to raise money for the levy campaign and drum up support for the schools. They were joined by a student levy committee headed by business instructor Lani Jensen and involving more than 60 high school students.
Camping out in the halls of the Erie County Board of Elections on Tuesday night, administrators swooped in to snatch updated results and gathered in groups to discuss them.
"Sandusky's future was in the voters' hands," board vice president Tom Patterson said. "Only they can turn Sandusky around."
Upon learning the final results, supporters were full of smiles and a few escaped tears.
"I'm so happy," Corso said. "So, so happy. This is just wonderful."
"Now, we can really give back to the kids," board member King Baer said. "Really meet their needs -- that's what it's all about."
Patterson and board president Faith Denslow said now it's time to really focus on getting test scores up and giving back to the community for believing in them.
"The voters really took ownership in their community today," Patterson said. "It's up to us as a school board to use their assurance of us to benefit our children. They are the most important resource they have."
The levy, which will go into effect in 2008, will cost the owner of a $100,000 home approximately $165 a year or 45 cents per day.
Sandusky City schools asked voters to approve a 5.4-mill operating levy that would generate $2.7 million annually for the district.
Voters approved the levy by a vote of 3,971 (56.58 percent) to 3,048 (43.42 percent).