The Big Walnut Local School District is back on the ballot after last year’s defeat with a combined bond issue and permanent improvement levy.
“We’re trying to be proactive and prepare for the growth that’s coming,” said Superintendent Angie Pollock at the Sunbury/Big Walnut Area Chamber of Commerce candidates’ breakfast on Friday.
According to the district, there were 3,734 students this summer; with projected enrollment figures of 4,372 in 2020 and 5,452 in 2025.
Campaign Chair Tara Shelby, who joined Pollock at the candidates’ breakfast, said, “We wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t needed.”
The district has resorted to using trailers to accommodate the growing enrollment, but officials said permanent solutions are needed. The district has said it is seeking funding to build “a new high school and elementary school as well as $5 million for (entrance) security and Heating/Ventilation/Air-Conditioning improvements to existing facilities.”
The total ballot millage is 7.85 mills — a $108 million, 6.6-mill bond and 1.25-mill permanent improvement levy.
“Although collection on both would begin in January, it is important to note that full collection would not occur for several years,” said a handout from the District’s Administrative Office. “That’s for two reasons: Because we are only selling the bonds as we need them for construction; and with the way school funding and tax collection works, the collection rate winds up being lower than the voted millage rate.”
There would be a three-year phase in, Pollock said.
Big Walnut, which has received “Excellent with Distinction” report card ratings in the past, continues to achieve academically under the state’s new grading system.
“We have the highest Grade Point Average in Delaware County, and one of the best in central Ohio with the lowest millage,” Pollock said.
Pollock will answer questions about the Nov. 7 ballot issue from 6 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 25 and from 7:30 to 9 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 3 at the Sunbury/Big Walnut Area Chamber of Commerce’s meeting room, 39 E. Granville St., Sunbury.
Facebook responses to recent news articles have mostly favored support for Big Walnut. In addition, informal discussions with people who have ties to the district either as residents or stakeholders reveal a guarded optimism that the bond/levy will pass this time around, and that last year’s defeat was in part due to an unusual national election.
Contact Gary Budzak at 740-413-0906. Follow him on Twitter @GaryBudzak.