Residents of the Eastwood Local School District who voted against a bond issue in November appear to be steadfast in their opposition to another possible ballot issue, but some could be swayed if the economy improved or the district sought a lower millage amount, according to a survey the district recently conducted.
Residents who voted no in November were asked to choose from four survey statements that best described their opinion about another possible bond issue:
• 43 responders (14.5 percent) said they would vote yes on a lower millage for a smaller project such as a new K-5 building on the central campus instead of a new K-8 building.
• 175 responders (59 percent) said they would vote no regardless of any millage amount.
• 68 responders (23 percent) said they would vote yes if the economy improved.
• 25 (8.4 percent) said they would vote yes if the plan included retaining elementary schools in Luckey and Pemberville.
The school board has scheduled a meeting for Jan. 12 at 7 p.m. in the high school library to weigh its options.
The district qualifies for about $13.5 million in funding through the Ohio School Facilities Commission to help pay for part of the construction costs for a new elementary building. Voters in November, however, rejected a 5.8-mill, 28-year bond issue to fund the local share of construction costs for a new building on the central campus that would have housed kindergarten through eighth grade classes. The issue would have generated about $18.3 million.
In addition, the district planned about $3 million in other improvements, including a new heating pump system at the high school, a pitched roof with a 40-year guarantee and hard surface tile flooring for the proposed K-8 elementary building, and a faster cable Internet link to the central campus – all of which would be covered by the local bond issue.
“We have some deep concerns with the timing of any future bond issue,” said Brent Welker, superintendent, in his weekly newsletter. “Our funding offer at the current state share expires in August, 2009. The board could place an issue on the ballot in either May or August under the current set of guidelines. We will also be talking with (OSFC) authorities to ask them to consider extending the funding offer at the current rate an additional four to six months to allow for a rebound in the economy.”
A total of 555 surveys were returned to the administration. Of those, 480 included responses to a question about a possible future bond issue:
• 198 (41.3 percent) said they would support any bond issue using matching funds from the OSFC.
• 147 (30.6 percent) said the project is unnecessary and they wouldn’t support it at this time.
The other respondents were split fairly evenly between support for a smaller bond issue and needing to be convinced the project is necessary.
School officials have said a new K-8 building on the central campus would save the district more than $300,000 annually in operating costs but concede closing elementary schools in the villages is an emotional issue for some residents.