A group that led the charge in defeating a Buckeye Valley Local Schools bond issue last year will now spearhead the effort to approve a bond issue in the district.
Excellence for Buckeye Valley will lead the campaign to approve a $31.3 million bond issue in November that will pay for construction of two new elementary facilities in the district.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be able to pass this bond issue,” said Joe Veneman, the group’s spokesman, at a community forum Wednesday.
If approved, the bond issue would pay for the construction of a new elementary building in Ashley and another at a 31-acre site in Concord Township just west of State Route 257. The district has approved an option to purchase the land for about $465,000, but the purchase is contingent on the passage of the bond issue.
The district currently owns land at Hyatts Road, which was donated by developer Don Kenney. District officials had considered a land-swap deal, but were advised against it by an attorney, which did not please Kenney.
“I wanted a new school for the homes being built down in Scioto Reserve,” he said during the forum on the bond measure.
But Superintendent Andy Miller said the community ruled that site out through a process that included three public meetings and several votes by community members on a number of different elementary facility configurations and locations.
“As a whole, the community did not appear to be in support of this land for an elementary building,” he said.
For now, the district has no imminent plans to sell the donated property on Hyatts Road. The property contains a deed restriction that it be used for school district purposes.
The bond measure will also cover the cost to demolish the district’s three existing elementary facilities in Ostrander, Ashley and Radnor.
Miller said the district’s plan is to transfer the land to the villages and the township at as little cost as possible.
“I don’t think there would be much outlay of funds there,” he said.
District officials also believe passage of the bond measure will help to reduce busing times by placing a school about halfway between a population center in Ostrander and another in the Scioto Reserve area. Ride times could be reduced by 15 to 20 minutes for most students, according to the district.
“You can’t have schools that are centralized in communities and close to population centers in Buckeye Valley,” said Miller. “We’re 206 square miles.”
According to Delaware County Auditor George Kaitsa, the bond issue, if approved, would cost an additional $108.50 in property taxes annually on a property valued at $100,000.
However, the next tax increase would actually be around $47 each year per $100,000 valuation due to the expiration of another bond issue in December.
The district’s newest elementary school was built in 1947, although additions have been made to each since that time. Maintenance and repair costs are starting to accumulate in the aging buildings that lack the infrastructure to handle all of today’s modern technology and air-conditioning.
District officials says the new facilities will save about $88,000 per year in utility costs.
District voters have defeated 15 of 18 tax issues on the ballot since 1990, including two bond issues to address the school system’s aging elementary facilities, one of which would have paid for the construction of a single facility on Coover Road and another that would have covered the cost to renovate the buildings in Ashley, Ostrander and Radnor.
Two bond issues – one to build a new middle school and another to renovate the high school – have been approved over that time.
Veneman said the time is ripe for the district to pass its third bond issue in the past two decades.
“This process has led to a community-forged consensus,” he said.
Dustin Ensinger can be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @EnsingerDG.
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