Some Positive, Some Negative Signals in Local Balloting

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Copyright 1988 The main purpose of the board, patterned after two similar entities operating in other Florida counties, was to levy property taxes that would be used expressly to deliver services to children.

The board concept was conceived as a means of ensuring adequate child services when governmental bodies that would otherwise provide them are already levying the maximum tax rate allowed under state law.

It was unclear as of late last week whether supporters of the taxing measure could or would put the question before voters again at a time when fewer items are on the ballot.

Observers said there had been only minimal organized activity for or against the ballot proposal.

It was also unclear whether the September approval of the board4would allow for its establishment without the taxing authority. Proponents of the measure were unavailable for comment.

Mixed Results

Other local elections on school-funding and governance issues included these:

In Mississippi, voters in most of the 66 counties with elected school superintendents appeared to have rejected a move to appointed superintendents, according to incomplete tallies by state agencies.

The Mississippi Board of Education has been pressing the legislature to mandate appointed superintendents in all of the state's 152 districts, but lawmakers chose instead to put the question to voters in the districts that had not yet made the switch.

Voters in Pike County, Ky., a district whose financial operations were taken over by the state last July, unseated three school-board incumbents. The other two incum8bent board members were not up for reelection.

Although state officials would not comment last week on the election results, other sources in Kentucky said that the board members' ouster had been a direct result of the takeover.

In the suburban Atlanta district of Clayton County, Ga., voters ousted three incumbent Democratic school-board members and replaced them with Republican challengers who had campaigned on a platform stressing values education in the schools.

All four of the candidates elected to the 11-member board had publicly identified themselves as Christians and criticized the incumbents for supporting a "value-free education for children."

The campaign literature of one challenger, Linda C. Barrett, claimed she would work to "restore the five R's to education: Reading, Riting, Rithmetic, Righteousness, Respect."

"You and I have a divine appointment from God to care what and how our children are being taught," her campaign materials said.

Baltimore County, Md., voters rejected a charter-amendment question that would have let the county council restore education funding cut from the school board's request by the county executive.

Under state law, the county council may approve or make additional cuts in the executive's recommended budget for the 80,000-student system, but it cannot restore funding cut from the district's request.

The Teachers Association of Baltimore County led the fight for the change, saying that the council should have the same powers enjoyed by others throughout Maryland.

In Ohio, voters approved 56 percent of the 233 operating levies and bond issues on local ballots--the second-highest passage rate in 12 years, according to Robert Bowers, assistant state superintendent.

But districts that failed to get the approval, Mr. Bowers said, will "have a tough road ahead." He said that of the 35 districts that were facing the prospect of borrowing money from the state's emergency-loan program, only 11 convinced voters to support their operating levies.

But the overall passage rate for levies and bond issues was up from special elections in May, when 98 of 208 levy proposals passed, and August, when 15 of 70 proposals passed.

Among successful larger districts were Akron and Youngstown, which had operating levies approved, and Columbus, which won a construction-bond election.

Voters in seven Colorado districts approved operating levies requested by school officials under the state's new school-finance law, which restricts voting on such issues to general elections in even-numbered years.

Twelve districts placed levies on the ballot, including some that had no immediate need for new money but wanted to avoid financial problems between 1988 and 1990. Of the 12, four failed and one district withdrew its request.

Voters in Denver and Fort Collins approved new levies by substantial margins, despite having rejected similar requests recently.

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