MASSILLON, Ohio – The final vote on an 8.1 mil levy for the Massillon City Schools remains uncertain following Tuesday’s election when the levy passed by only one vote.
Of 11,741 votes cast 5,870 voted against the levy, 5,871 voted in favor of it.
“When we went home we were up by 21 votes, so I got a text message about six o’clock in the morning that said we were up by one. I figured that’s probably 22 votes,” said Superintendent Richard Goodright, who says he realized that was not the case after checking the figures from the Stark County Board of Elections.
The single vote difference means the district will have to wait until provisional ballots are counted later this month before any plans can be made.
The district has already cut $3.7 million from its budget this year, closing three schools, cutting staff, moving its board offices and making other reductions.
Additional cuts are in the works, but the superintendent says he can’t make any decisions until he knows what the final outcome will be.
“I’m a former coach and teacher and in any event you’d much rather be up than down so we’re up one, so we are pleased with that,” said Goodright on Thursday.
Among those who voted in Tuesday’s election were seniors from Washington High School who were encouraged by school administrators to register and to vote.
Brad Warner, the school’s principal, says he and his staff decided to make it a civics project to teach the students the importance of voting.
Warner says he had no idea the lesson would wind up being so important.
“The mission wasn’t, honestly was not for us to encourage, persuade students to vote yes, that was never talked about, honestly it was never ever talked about it was really about the idea of taking the opportunity to vote,” said Warner.
Among the seniors who voted was Luke Devoll, who admits he voted against the levy.
“Now since I have learned more about the levy, I’m glad it did pass, I wasn’t that informed, just from what my friends had told me and stuff like that, that’s why I said no,” Devoll told Fox 8 News.
“Oftentimes when election results come out you have heard several times, I’m not sure my vote matters, I’m not sure, does my vote really count?” said Warner adding “I think it’s just a great civics lesson for students that voted and students that didn’t vote to understand that one vote does count.”
The superintendent says he has been getting text messages from people in the community happy to take credit for being the single vote that put the levy over the top.
Dale Eisenbrei of Massillon admits voting for the levy which he says he believed had a better chance to fail.
“I voted for it because of my grandson that’s why. He’s in the district and will be going to school here and that’s why I voted for it,” said Eisenbrei.
Cyndee Sheegog also says she voted in favor of the levy.
“Well every vote does count you know. I’m glad the people got out and voted,” said Sheegog
Warner says even after the provisional ballots are counted, if the votes for the levy and against the levy remain less than 60 apart there will have to be a recount.
“I’m sure there are some people out there right now that maybe didn’t make it to the polls, and they were maybe in support of us and they are thinking wow, this was too close I wish I had changed my day,” said Warner.
What everyone in the district seems to more clearly understand now, however, is that one vote can make a difference.