MAINEVILLE, Ohio - Like parents all across the country, Katie Sliter couldn't resist snapping picture after picture of her daughter, Abby, on Tuesday.
After all, it was the child's first day of afternoon kindergarten in the Little Miami School District and Sliter had her pose in front of the sign reading Hamilton Maineville Elementary School.
"I'm excited," she said. "It's my first child in kindergarten. It's exciting to have her come."
There was also plenty of excitement from dozens of other students and parents. Hamilton Maineville Elementary was reopening after being closed for several years.
The closing was one of the byproducts of Little Miami's money woes. Eight straight property tax levies were defeated. That resulted in deep cuts to programs and services. The district slipped into fiscal emergency. The State of Ohio took control of day-to-day operations.
That was reversed last fall with passage of a new property tax levy on the ninth try. It meant that the owner of a $100,000 home had to pay an extra $427 a year in new property taxes.
However, it also produced new opportunities for students. Hamilton Maineville and Harlan Butlerville Elementary Schools were reopened. Full busing was restored. Half-day, every day kindergarten was reinstated. Art, gym and music were brought back to all elementary schools. Pay-to-play fees were lowered.
"It's a big sacrifice to up the taxes, but it was absolutely worth it to have it benefit our family," Sliter added.
Josh Whitehead stood with his wife and son, Jaxson, waiting for school to begin. He, too, voted for the levy
and gazed around him at the faces of the boys and girls wondering which ones might be doctors or lawyers or other occupations at the end of their 13 year education journey.
"It is tough, but I think it's a good choice because the more you support your schools, I think it boosts your home value," he said. "It gives us better programs and things like that because it is a good school district in which to live. That's why we moved here. We need to have good schools in order for us to stay."
Superintendent Greg Power said enrollment is expected to be around 4,100 students, up 300 from last year.
A large portion of that increase is in kindergarten.
"We are probably going to have our largest kindergarten class in our history," he said. "Last Friday, we were looking at somewhere in the high 340's and we could open today with as many as 360 kids."
Many of those 5-year-olds were in the afternoon kindergarten class of Stephanie Ison. She welcomed the students, had them unpack their supplies, hang up their backpacks and get to know their classmates.
Principal Debra Contner stopped to to introduce herself and tell each student not to be afraid to come to her if they need help. She also praised their teacher.
"Mrs. Ison is really smart and she knows all kinds of stuff," Contner said. "So, she'll be able to help you learn about our school and how to be a good kindergarten student."
Ison said she's excited to help the boys and girls succeed.
"My goal for them is to make as many gains as they can and be able to go into first grade successful, ready to read and write and learn everything that they possibly can and just for them to achieve as much as possible," she said.
While the day-to-day learning is going on, district leaders will try to emerge from fiscal emergency and get out from under state control by the end of December.
"Once that's done, full local control will be back here at Little Miami Schools with our elected board members and we can proceed forward and rebuild where we've been," said Power.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Obama is not claiming final victory over extremists who still seek to kill Americans and other Westerners. Instead, he is refocusing the long struggle against terrorism that lies ahead, steering the United States away from what he calls an equally frightening threat — a country in a state of perpetual war.