The Boardman Board of Education had a long wait to find out the fate of its replacement permanent improvement levy. On May 7, voters approved it by four votes, which demanded a recount, leaving its fate in 13 provisional ballots that could throw it either way.
At the end of the night of May 7, the ballots were counted and the Boardman School's 1.6 mills permanent improvement levy passed 1,556 for and 1,552 opposed. That close of a vote forced the levy into an automatic recount that included 13 provisional ballots that were as yet unopened.
"It could have went either way," Lazzeri said.
It was a long wait. When the Board of Elections finally opened the provisional ballots, all 13 had to be verified. Lazzeri said provisional ballots could come from Boardman residents who moved to a different residence in Boardman, or someone who forgot their driver's license and didn't want to wait to vote. In both cases, the voter had to prove their residency and voting status following the elections.
Of the 13 provisional ballots, five were found to be invalid. That left eight votes that could still swing the pendulum either way.
"On May 25, we were informed that four votes were for the replacement levy and four were against," Lazzeri said. "That meant the levy still passed by four votes. The power of one vote really does matter."
He said he was appreciative of the support the community gave for the schools and for the levy. He got several phone calls asking why the district didn't run a bigger campaign with tons of yard signs. He said the district can't spend any taxpayer money for a levy campaign. It all has to come from private donations and there simply was no funding to run a huge campaign.
As for the passage, Lazzeri said the district can now look into security upgrades to better protect Boardman students.
"After the tragedies in Chardon and New Town, we saw the need for security upgrades," Lazzeri said. "Those upgrades cost money and we felt the replacement levy was an opportunity that only came around once every five years."
By making it a replacement levy and taking it back to the original 1.6 mills, the district will be able to generate an addition $480,000 that could be used to install some of the safety upgrades.
"The police officers on our safety committee came up with a lot of recommendations for upgrades," he said.
Among the recommendations were to replace the older doors that have glass that could be kicked in with a solid door. The glass doors are at Center Middle School.
An upgraded public address system was recommended so communications between the office and classroom could take place in an emergency.
Police also recommended replacing the camera system at the high school. Presently, there are 40 cameras operating off an analog system. That makes it tough for security personnel to access in an emergency situation. Lazzeri pointed to the new Niles High School, which is half the size of Boardman, but has 120 cameras installed that police can access through digital technology.
Now that the replacement levy passage is official, Lazzeri said the district can begin addressing some of these security issues.
"Boardman School District takes child safety very, very seriously," he said. "Having safe schools for kids also helps increase property values."