By Dustin Ensinger
The Buckeye Valley Local School District’s Board of Education took the first officials step Tuesday toward placing a bond issue on the November ballot.
The board unanimously passed a resolution informing the Ohio Department of Education of its intent to place a $27 million bond issue on the November ballot that would pay to renovate the district’s three elementary facilities.
District officials say the plan will allow the buildings to be modernized, facilitate the reopening of North Elementary and reduce overcrowding at the middle school.
Not all district residents agree with the plan. Kathy Bartolomucci questioned whether the district has the operating revenue necessary to reopen North Elementary, which was shuttered at the conclusion of the 2011-12 school year due to budget constraints.
“I would like to see us spend our money wisely,” she told the board.
Superintendent Andy Miller said he is in the process of developing a staffing plan for three elementary buildings, a high school and a middle school.
Bartolomucci also told the board she does not think the bond issue will pass.
“I do not believe the majority of this district are in favor of renovating the elementary buildings,” she said.
Tom Kaelber, the board’s president, believes three recent events indicate otherwise. The 2012 defeat of a bond issue to create a single, centralized elementary building, survey results that found district residents value community schools and the election of three new board members who ran on a platform of fighting for community schools are all indications of the direct the district residents would like to take, he has said.
Richard Lehner, a former board member, encouraged the board to continue on the path it is taking.
“People I’ve talked to in the community totally support what you’re doing,” he said.
To ensure the bond issue makes it on the November ballot, the board will need to pass two more resolutions, one of which will likely require a special meeting in order to meet a deadline.
The $27 million is $3 million more than architects estimated it would cost to renovate the three buildings. Kaelber said the extra money will be used to add classroom space on the buildings.
The bond issue is also $3 million less than a similar measure that failed in 2012 and would have paved the way for one centralized elementary building near the high school and middle school. It is also less expensive than estimates to build three new elementary buildings in the district.
The district has built a new middle school and made millions of dollars worth of renovations to the high school facility since 2002. But its elementary facilities – the newest built in 1937 – have not had major upgrades in decades.
The district’s success at the ballot box has been rare. Since 1990, the district has failed to pass three property tax levies, an income tax increase and 11 bond issues.
Dustin Ensinger can be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @EnsingerDG.