CAMDEN — Now a Preble Shawnee income tax/bond issue has failed for the third time, the board of education has to come up with a backup plan for how to make repairs to the existing buildings.
Back in November, following the failure, Superintendent Matt Bishop recommended taking a survey of Camden, Gratis, and West Elkton residents, as well as other residents who fall in Preble Shawnee Local School District. He promised to look into the issue and brainstorm ways to find out what the residents would support.
He came into the Thursday, Dec. 7 meeting prepared with some answers.
“We want to engage the community in some meaningful way and without any agendas or preconceived notions. We want the past to be the past, so we can move forward. We want to engage the community and see how they wish for us to spend tax dollars in the future,” Bishop said.
He added, he provided the board with information on what SHP has done in the past. He reached out to them, but added, the school does not need to contract with SHP again and can chose someone else. Instead, he reached out to them for information and a rough estimate of what the school would be looking into.
“They recommended a community committee with a substantial number of community residents. They talked about the importance of making a matrix and having us come up with every possible stakeholder you can think of — business owners, clergy members, parents, grandparents, and other representatives. You want to make sure everybody is represented. Then, maybe, you would have wild cards, that maybe each board member would choose,” Bishop said.
“The other piece of the process is complete and total transparency. Where you introduce the members and ask them what they’re looking for. You come back to the community and let them know what has been discussed. Ultimately, the recommendation ends in some type of survey, which we talked about before. Where it is scientific and people have confidence in the result. We want something that the community feels strongly about moving forward with.”
He finished by stating, if the board wishes him to, he can begin looking at other options in addition to the SHP one. He said Xenia Public Schools chose to go with a consultant, and that is something he can look into as well. He asked the board what information they were looking for and said he wanted them to “get it right” this time around and that there was no “timeline” for this.
Board President Jeff Wood responded, “I believe that the heat has to come down. There is no timeline for this. Time is money, I understand that, but I believe that we have to be patient. I can’t see us putting anything on the ballot this year, at least construction-wise. They need time.”
Board member Charlie Biggs said he liked the idea of a committee where every board member recommends people and new board member Julie Singleton said they have to move forward from the levy failure and look to the future. It was then suggested SHP might not be the best choice, as members of the public might have negative connotations towards them at this point.
Outgoing board member Emily Hamblin had one piece of advice for the board moving forward, which was for them to present a united front in whatever option they go with.
Superintendent Bishop will be seeking more information in the future, but the board is resolved to take their time on this decision moving forward.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH