CAMDEN – Two days after voters rejected a bond issue/tax levy, the Preble Shawnee Board of Education voted 4-1 to go back to the ballot in May of 2017 in hopes of securing funds for two new buildings in the district.
Board member Charlie Biggs was the lone dissenting vote.
“We just went through this,” Biggs said during the board’s discussion. “The voters told us no.”
Voters rejected the first attempt by a 53 percent-47 percent margin on election day, Tuesday, Nov. 8.
Board president Candi Turpin noted, the district has one year to pass the levy based on the state’s funding.
Preble Shawnee Superintendent Dr. Matt Bishop informed the board that first time passage of bond issues is “very rare.”
“If you have the opinion that you put it on for one time and if it passes or fails that’s the end of it we’d never have President Reagan, if that was the case,” Bishop said. “He lost his election bid in 1976 and was the Republican nominee in ‘80. There’s a lot of example of people who have lost and come back and were successful.”
Bishop said he believes there are communities in the area who are currently taking advantage of new buildings that were initially rejected.
“Maybe our students and community have the right to potentially have that experience as well,” Bishop said.
The Ohio School Facilities Commission approved over $29.2 million in state funding for school construction work in the district.
If approved, it is estimated the bond issue will cost the owner of a home valued at $75,000 approximately $15.63 per month. There is also a .75 percent income tax for permanent improvements which will be used in conjunction with the bond issue to pay the cost of those improvements. The bonds would be repaid in 37 years, and the income tax collected for 23 years.
According to school officials, what the district is asking for will bring two new schools — at the same tax rate.
“In 2015, district residents paid 2.5 mills in property taxes and .75 percent in income taxes. At the end of 2015, that property tax rolled off the books and of residents’ tax bills. At the end of the 2016 calendar year, the 75 percent income tax will end,” Bishop noted in a presentation in August. “We are simply asking voters to vote back in the 2.5 mill property tax that rolled off last year and vote back in the .75 percent income tax that will end on Jan. 1.
“This is a great opportunity to keep our tax rates the same and repurpose those tax dollars to leverage two buildings,” he said.
The district is one of 15 from across Ohio that received an offer of funding from the commission, which oversees the state’s school facility renovation and construction program. Preble Shawnee’s facilities range from 35 years old to over 100 years old, and the district’s ability to financially and physically maintain them is becoming more and more difficult, officials have said.
“Our buildings were assessed recently and were determined that none are up to state standards. Based on our district’s valuation, the state has offered to pay 65 percent of the costs of two new buildings if the district raises the remaining 35 percent,” Bishop said.
“The funding, combined with $22.2 million from our district, will allow us to move forward with the construction of a new Preble Shawnee Elementary and a new Preble Shawnee Middle/High School that will have the capacity for career-technical education.”
In other business the board:
• Accepted a $250 donation for the Jill Taylor Memorial Scholarship.
• Approved the Joint Legal Representation from Bricker and Eckler LLP regarding OCR/Title IX Matters of per letter from Bricker and Eckler.
• Approved Letter of Arrangement for 2016 Audit
• Approved appropriations modifications (retirement of bonds in the amount of $1,225,868 as of Dec. 1 for the Camden Elementary and West Elkton Elementary additions.)
• Approved treasurer Mollie Hansel’s salary of $85,000 for the 2016-17 school year, retroactive to Aug. 1. (4-1 vote, Biggs casted the no vote).
• Approved new contract for Mollie Hansel effective Aug. 1, 2017 through July 30, 2021. (4-1, Biggs voted against).
• Superintendent recognized the girls’ soccer team for their season and district runner-up finish.
• Recognized senior Elise Walker, who was named District 15 Player of the Year in volleyball.
• Recognized the FFA Chapter for its participation in the National Conference.
• Scheduled the organizational meeting for Thursday, Jan. 5, at 6 p.m., to be followed by the regular board meeting. Appointed Candi Turpin as President Pro-tem for the organizational meeting.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH.