A 4.9-mill bond issue combined with a 0.25 percent earned income tax for the Northwood Local Schools District passed on Tuesday’s primary election ballot by just 17 votes, according to unofficial results from the Wood County Board of Elections.
The levy passed 671-654 votes, according to the board of elections.
A similar bond issue and income tax proposal on last November’s ballot was defeated by just two votes – 702-700.
“We had another very close election,” said Superintendent Greg Clark on Wednesday. “I can’t express just how grateful I am to the people who really worked hard to make this happen. I’m very thankful to the volunteers who got the message out.” He was told by the board of elections that there are 11 provisional ballots, which would not be enough to change the outcome.
“The percentage of people who voted compared to other communities shows our voters were engaged in making the decision,” said Clark. “Almost as many votes were cast with little on the ballot compared to votes cast in the fall. Historically, this election would have had many fewer voters. Having Northwood schools on the ballot got our people out. The community voted.”
The revenue will be used to fund the construction of a 130,000 square foot building for prekindergarten through 12th grade. The state, as part of an Ohio School Facilities Commission project, will pay $11 million of the $33 million cost. Under Ohio law, districts must raise their portion of the funds before state funds can be released for the project.
Plans call for the new building to be located at Lemoyne and Woodville roads, where the current schools are located. Lark, Northwood Elementary, Olney and the classroom section of the high school will be torn down.
The high school common spaces, including the gym and auditorium, will be “buttoned up” for future student and community use.
He attributes the win this time not only to the drive and commitment of the volunteers, but also to voters who realized that the buildings are in bad shape and there may not be another opportunity to take advantage of the state’s offer to pay $11 million towards a new facility.
“If we had waited, it would have cost us more to build a school. We know for sure the offer we have now from the state wouldn’t be around in the future. Would there have been another offer with different numbers? It’s possible. You never know. We still would have to pay for it. There are no free lunches. Now is the time to do it. I think the people understood that overall,” said Clark. “They were willing to make a private investment in the community that will have an impact on kids for the next 50 years.”
The district will begin collecting revenue next January, he said.
“I view this as a very positive investment in the Northwood community. Over time, I think people will be very happy they have made this choice.
What’s the next step?
“We’ll get started on the planning process,” he said. “The folks who have been through this before tell me we’ll have about a year to work with the architects and the community to put together the plan. We know we’re going to build 130,000 square feet, but how all those square feet will be worked out, it’s going to be a fun conversation to have. We’re going to design a Northwood school that’s unique to our community and we’ll provide a 21st century educational environment for our students. Then once building proceeds, it’s our expectation to have the doors open for a brand new school in the fall of 2017.”