Big Walnut Local Schools’ $133.9 million bond issue will likely appear on the November ballot as an 8.3-mill tax issue.
On July 7, members of the school board gathered with members of the school district’s central office administration to hold a special meeting and work session. Most of the session was comprised of brief overviews of the district’s operations and plans for the year ahead.
Delaware County Auditor George Kaitsa’s office has determined that the bond issue will fall in the 8.3-mill range, according to district Treasurer Terri Eyerman Day.
“A motion to approve placing the bond issue on the ballot will be on the July board of education agenda,” Day said. “The 8.3-mill number is a safe estimate, but it could be lower.”
Day said that, at 8.3 mills, the bond issue would cost district property owners 83 cents per $100 of assessed value, or about $300 per year for each $100,000 assessed value — not market value.
“We will also need a cash balance policy for the bond market,” Day said. “We have one, but the current policy is unwritten. We need to show two months of monthly expenditures plus one month in cash balance. Something written and approved needs to be in place before we go on the ballot.”
Day said if the resolution to put the bond issue on the November ballot is approved during the July 21 board meeting, she would file the application with the Delaware County Board of Elections the following day, or Monday, July 25, at the latest. Aug. 10 is the deadline to be on the Nov. 8 ballot.
Members of the district’s facilities committee and Triad Architects used the district’s 2015 enrollment study and determined that, by 2019, all seven of the district’s buildings would be at capacity at the low to moderate projection range; that by 2026 the district will be serving at least an additional 2,000 students.
The committee’s final recommendation for meeting student population growth was to build a new 1,850-student high school on a new site that’s centrally located, move the middle school students to the high school, move the intermediate students to the middle school, and turn the intermediate school into an elementary school and consolidate in-town preschool at that facility. The recommendation also includes the construction of one new elementary building. The committee recommended going on the November ballot because of the four- to five-year process of designing and building a new high school.
Assistant Superintendent Mark Cooper said that in addition to a new high school and elementary building, bond issue dollars would be used to renovate existing buildings based on changed use and age. Aging air-conditioning units and boilers need to be upgraded or replaced, electrical upgrades are needed at several older buildings, and the district needs to catch up on standard scheduled maintenance items that were delayed during the recent recession.