Michael D. Clark reports:
It’s a weekday afternoon, but the leader of Mason Schools isn’t anywhere near a school. Instead, she’s sitting on an ottoman in Diane Pfennig’s living room.
Gathered around Mason Superintendent Gail Kist-Kline are a half-dozen school mothers, all making some history as this top education official of their Warren County community pioneers a very personal way of reaching out to them.
It’s a scene increasingly common as superintendents across Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky are creatively reaching out to their residents to better connect, persuade and enlist support in these budget-conscious times.
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Years of stagnant or lagging state funding are fueling the trend. While Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s proposed school funding plan is generally well-received – 22 of Southwest Ohio’s 49 school districts would receive more money – lean budgets continue to be the norm.
Mason, which has consistently been among Ohio’s top 10 academic performers the past decade, once boasted a school levy winning streak that dated to 1970. But that streak ended in 2011 when residents rejected by a wide margin an operating tax hike, resulting in millions of dollars in school budget cuts.
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