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Voters say 'no'

$25.3 million school bond issue rejected in close election

February 23, 2011 - By Laura Colvin

Review editor

Brian Clarkston lives on Clarkston Road in Clarkston, but he's no Clarkston wolf.

One of about 5,000 registered voters who live outside Orion's municipal boundaries but within the Lake Orion Community School district, the 2007 LOHS grad made sure he got to the polls Tuesday.

"I voted 'yes,'" said Clarkston, 21. "Times are changing very fast. Back in the days of ancient Greece a person could get an education by walking around in gardens (with a teacher). No more. An education requires buildings, facilities, equipment. Yes times are tough, but times are also changing and society is naive to think we can produce educated, well-rounded students in schools that don't stay current with the times."

But 55.09 percent of those who turned out at the polls Tuesday, 7,126 in all, voted in the other direction. The Lake Orion Community Schools' $25.3 million school bond issue was defeated by a vote of 3,926-3,200.

Orion Township Clerk Penny Shults said voter turnout was unusually high for a school election, with just over 25 percent of voters from the district's 22 precincts making an appearance at the polls to answer one question: Yes or no?

Nearly a third of votes were cast by absentee votes, said Shults, noting overall, the day went well.

None of the rumored Tea-Party protesters materialized.

"I was at nearly every precinct throughout the day," Shults said. "I heard they were going to come out -- maybe they were all hiding out in their cars trying to stay warm."

The district's top administrators anxiously awaited results and remained at township offices until the final results were in.

"It's very disappointing," said Interim Superintendent Marion Ginopolis. "We've got a lot of challenges ahead, and this isn't the only one. We're also looking now at the cuts proposed by (Gov. Rick Snyder)."

But Ginopolis said she was ready to move past the bond issue and continue the forward momentum.

"We're going to regroup and faind a way to continue to provide quality education for all our students."

Those who said they voted 'no' on the district's $25.3 school bond issue Tuesday didn't seem to disagree with that philosophy.

Julie Smith voted no, citing a lack of real information put forward by the district.

Although she doesn't have children, Smith said she might have voted differently under different circumstances.

"Just because I don't have kids doesn't mean I don't support the kids in our community," she said, noting she moved to Lake Orion some 14 years ago. "They'll be our leaders of the future."

But she wanted more particulars – how often technology has been – and will be – replaced, for example.

"Those thing are important," she said. "Technology becomes obsolete very quickly, and I felt like what they were asking was a lot with too few details."

Sonal Desai voted yes.

"It's really important our schools get the money they need in the classrooms," she said, noting she and her husband moved into the district about five years ago and have been "very happy," with the education their three children – age 8, 6, and 3 – have received from Lake Orion Community Schools thus far.

Marilyn and Gordon Johnston voted Lake Orion United Methodist, Precinct 2.

Neither supported the bond.

"We usually vote 'no,'" said Marilyn Johnston, noting she felt the schools need to show more fiscal responsibility and teachers need to take wage and benefit cuts rather than hitting up the taxpayers.

Her husband said school funding is coming from the wrong places to begin with.

"I'm a Constitutionalist," he said, noting he favors privatization across the board. "Schools should be funded privately.

Jamie Treece was the last voter to cast a ballot at the library Tuesday, arriving minutes before the polls closed at 8 p.m.

His vote?

"I supported the schools," said Treece, father of an LOHS senior as well as a sophomore. "I don't feel cutting education is the right thing to do."

Lake Orion Review Editor
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