Even though Thanksgiving was last week, supporters of the Buckeye Valley Local School District’s Nov. 3 bond issue have much to be thankful for after a recount showed the issue passed by two votes.
According to the certified results released by the Delaware County Board of Elections Monday, the final tally for the $31.25 million bond issue showed 3,312 votes in favor and 3,310 against.
“This has been a long time coming for Buckeye Valley,” Superintendent Andrew Miller said Monday evening after the recount was certified. “It’ll be a game changer for us, so we’re really excited.”
On election night, the bond issue appeared to have failed by 19 votes — 3,257 against and 3,238 in favor. The official canvass from all four counties released on Nov. 20 showed the vote was tied with 3,312 in favor of and against the issue. The tie vote forced an automatic recount.
The boards of elections in Delaware, Marion, Morrow and Union counties each conducted and certified recounts on Monday. The key to the change in the results came from Union County where the recount revealed that two ballots cast against the bond issue were done so in error, according to Board of Elections Director Gary G. Wallace. That means that only three ballots were included in the final official count. All three of those ballots included “no” votes against the bond issue.
Wallace said the Millcreek precinct in Union County, which is located in the Buckeye Valley Local School District, is split between three school districts. The precinct is also within the boundaries of the Fairbanks Local School District and the Marysville Exempted Village School District. He said two of the five residents who voted in the Buckeye Valley bond issue election on Nov. 3 were given the wrong ballots.
“A precinct can have multiple school districts,” Wallace noted. “In fact this precinct happens to have three different school districts. What happened is they were given the wrong ballot, which happened to be for the Buckeye Valley School District instead of for Fairbanks or Marysville.”
All three school districts had elections on the ballot in the Millcreek precinct. Fairbanks Local Schools had an income tax renewal levy and all three boards of education had seats available.
There was no change in the vote count from Delaware, Marion or Morrow counties. Official results from Delaware County showed 3,130 votes in favor of the bond issue and 3,021 against it. Marion County’s vote count remained at 7-1 against the issue. In Morrow County, the final tally was 279 votes against and 181 votes for the issue.
The passage of the $31.25 million bond issue will provide funding for the construction of two new elementary school buildings located in Ashley and near Bellpoint in Concord Township.
“We’re now going to be able to provide 21st century learning places for our students, kind of commensurate with area school districts,” Miller said. “The other thing I’m excited about is this is going to change how we plan. For so long here we’ve said, ‘well, we’ll do this if this happens’ or ‘we’ll do that if that happens.’ This issue has kind of hung up our strategic planning, but now we can certainly move forward with some of these things that have been on hold.”
Miller said that according to the tentative construction timeline, the new West Elementary would be completed in early 2018 with the new East Elementary ready for students by the middle of 2018.
Joe Veneman, spokesman for the Excellence for Buckeye Valley committee, said he believes this is a pivotal point in the history of the school district.
“This moment is kind of a catharsis for the Buckeye Valley Local School District,” he said. “Future generations, I think, will look back upon this election and really see it as the bridge between a very rich and vibrant past to an equally and vibrant future.”
Veneman said the Excellence for Buckeye Valley committee will remain active in the future, serving as a direct connection between the community and the board of education and administration.
Andrew Carter can be reached at 740-413-0902 and on Twitter @AndrewCarterDG.