The Big Walnut Schools Board of Education unanimously approved a combination bond/levy resolution at its meeting on June 15, putting the district a step closer to returning to the ballot this fall.
The resolution declares “the necessity of bond issue for an amount not to exceed $108 million and a levy of tax in excess of the ten-mill limitation not to exceed 1.25 mills for permanent improvements and to submit the question of such bond issue to the electors.”
Treasurer Terri Eyerman said the next step would be for the county auditor to calculate the millage, requiring another board vote.
Superintendent Angie Pollock told the board that voters would only have one issue to vote for — the combination bond/levy — with the bond language at the top of the ballot, and the levy at the bottom.
Going back to the ballot is needed, district administration says, because enrollment is projected to grow from the current 3,600 students to 6,000 students by 2025.
Last November, Big Walnut district voters defeated a $133.9 million, 8.3-mill bond issue by a vote of 6,191 against, 5,271 for; a 54- to 46-percent margin. Passage would have allowed the immediate construction of one new elementary building, and started the process of building an approximately 2,000-student high school. That bond issue would also have included funds to add on to the district’s current middle school building and also funds for needed renovations to the district’s older buildings.
After the defeat, the district looked at options for accommodating the growth. The four options were: increase class sizes; shuttling the overflow students; rent space from nearby churches; and buying a double-classroom trailer unit out of operating revenues.
A temporary solution for the enrollment demands is refurbishing two abandoned modular classrooms at Big Walnut Elementary School. During the June 15 meeting, the board also unanimously approved the purchase of a two-classroom modular unit for $79,350. The unit will be used at General Rosecrans Elementary.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.