CAMDEN – Although Preble Shawnee voters turned down an income tax and bond issue for building new schools, Superintendent Dr. Matt Bishop is not discouraged.
The measure failed, 2,260-1,995, on Tuesday, Nov. 8, according to unofficial tallies from the Preble County Board of Elections.
“I’m disappointed, but not discouraged,” Bishop said following a “watch party” at Shawnee on election night. “Passing a levy like this the first time presenting it in front of voters, I knew would be a challenge.”
The district may take the issue back to residents in hopes of a different outcome.
“We may have an opportunity to go back (to voters) in the spring,” Bishop said. “At this point it’s all about getting the message out. I feel like it’s a good message. It’s a good opportunity for the district. So I think that if we can get in front of as many people as we can and show them the facts, I think we could get people that didn’t vote to vote.”
“I think that we have the facts on our side to turn people that voted no this time to yes the next time,” he said.
Everybody was positive, according to Bishop. “The great unknown is how many hundreds of people that you don’t run into, that you don’t have contact with, so you don’t really have a feeling for where those people are,” he said.
The results may have been close enough to try again, according to Bishop, but the Preble Shawnee Board of Education will have to move quickly to get on the ballot in May.
“I think it’s close enough to definitely consider running it again,” he said. “Those are decisions that will have to come up quick. I believe the first resolution that we would have to pass is going to come in December. It’s going to be a quick turnaround to get back on in May.”
“It’s a great deal. But it’s a complicated levy,” Bishop said. “I’ve talked to people about it — not even Preble Shawnee residents, but other people outside the district — explaining what the opportunity is and they are like ‘Wow, I can’t believe you have that opportunity.’”
When people go to the polls and they vote for a levy they know that their taxes are going to go up, according to Bishop. “This levy is different,” he said. “We have to convince them that it’s going to keep your tax rates the same as you were paying in 2015. It’s almost too good to be true.”
“I don’t know if there’s a trust factor that people are kind of hesitant on,” he added. “You almost have to explain it once and twice and three times again to get people to understand this is how your taxes are going to be impacted by this opportunity.”
The Preble Shawnee School board, with the administration, is looking forward and using this as an opportunity to solve the district’s facility needs for a generation, according to Bishop.
“The other thing to think about,” he said, “The people that we hear that are ‘nos’, are in agreement that we have to do something with the facilities. They know that we have to renovate and do major repairs. So that’s good. We have everybody in the community understanding that the three buildings need a solution.”
“So it’s all about, do we have the best idea moving forward — and I feel like we do. It’s just about getting that message out,” Bishop added.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH.