The Buckeye Valley Local School District will go back to voters on March 15 in another effort to secure funding for two new elementary schools.
The board of education voted unanimously (5-0) in support of a resolution to place a $31.25 million bond issue on the ballot in the spring. The same issue was defeated by voters in the Nov. 3 election by a total of 19 votes — unofficially.
The final count will be determined when the boards of elections in Delaware, Marion and Union counties complete the canvass process on Friday. Morrow County’s canvass showed no change in the Election Day result. The issue was defeated there, 276-177.
Should the results of the final tally reveal enough votes to swing the result in favor of the bond issue, the board of education can rescind the resolution to place the bond issue on the ballot at a future meeting. The deadline to file local issues for the March election with the board of elections is Dec. 16.
Jeff White of Delaware, one of two newly elected board of education members, said he believes the district should wait until November 2016 before placing the bond issue on the ballot.
“I recommend the board table this resolution until the new board members are seated and let the new board members take this as part of their work and own that responsibility going forward,” White said. “The board should take the next six months and organize this bond issue effort for the November 2016 election. There is nothing special about the March election. Starting off now towards the March election, we are setting ourselves up for failure.”
Amy Dutt and White received the most votes in the Nov. 3 election. Two board seats were open during the Nov. 3 election. Current board member Joe Roden finished third in the voting. Board President Tom Kaelber chose not to seek another term.
White suggested the district hire “an at-risk construction management firm” to oversee the project. He also listed reasons he said people have related to him regarding why they voted “no” on the issue.
“The primary thing is the lack of drawings,” he said. “People want to see what they’re getting for $32 million. We didn’t have drawings. Those two drawings that were produced by OHM, I’ve got words for them, but I won’t say them here.”
OHM Advisors supplied two conceptual site plans for the respective elementary school locations in Ashley and near Bellpoint in Concord Township. Those plans were released publicly the week of Oct. 12, were posted on the school district and Excellence for Buckeye Valley websites, and also appeared in the Oct. 16 edition of The Gazette.
“Voter information is lacking,” White added. “The devil is in the details if you want to pass this thing. If we take the time to step back a minute, and reorganize how we’re going to approach this and do it for the November election, then we won’t be set up for failure in March. We’ll avoid that.”
Ostrander resident Kathy Bartolomucci told the board of education she believes that waiting too long to place the issue on the ballot would kill any momentum gained from the recent election.
“While I agree with Jeff that we could use some more drawings, some better information out there, I would implore the board to please put it on the ballot,” said Bartolomucci, who is a member of the Excellence for Buckeye Valley group. “Our momentum is strong right now. We have people who are willing to work. We have people who want this to pass. I think not putting it back on the ballot would be a mistake at this point.”
Board member Justin Osborn, while in full support of placing the bond issue on the March 2016 ballot, expressed concern about the district’s chances of gaining support from voters for operating funds.
“Looking at the key canvass results, I do have some concerns about the ability to pass a future operating levy,” he said. “Looking at the five-year forecast (at the October meeting), it’s inevitable that we’ll need that. If you look at the townships that have been disenfranchised in the past, they overwhelmingly voted ‘no.’ There were only two townships, really, that voted ‘yes’ — Ashley and Concord.”
Of the 20 Delaware County voting precincts located in the Buckeye Valley Local School District, eight supported the bond issue, according to information from the Delaware County Board of Elections website. Ten precincts opposed the issue. There were tie votes in two precincts — Liberty B (7-7) and Oxford (175-175).