Clark-Shawnee Local School District will ask voters to approve a new 5.25-mill levy in November that would cover much of the cost to renovate Shawnee High School and create a new middle school within the facility, as well as build a new elementary school.
The levy would generate about $37.2 million over 37 years, and would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $183.75 per year, according to information from the district. The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission would then chip in an additional $15.6 million, or about 30 percent of the project’s cost.
The district’s facilities are aging, and recent estimates say it would cost as much as $20 million over the next decade to maintain and make necessary repairs at the facilities.
“It’s important because our buildings, particularly our elementary buildings, are very old and they have significant needs,” said Gregg Morris, superintendent for the district. “We have very old infrastructure. The boilers, the furnaces in many cases are originals. We have continual repairs on them and we’re in a position where we actually have to have parts manufactured for them because they don’t make them anymore.”
Clark-Shawnee board members voted earlier this month to place the issue on the ballot. The district last received new revenue in May 2014, when voters narrowly approved a new 6.95-mill, 10-year levy for operating expenses for the district.
If approved by voters, the new funding would cover the cost to renovate Shawnee High School and create a middle school for students in grades 7 and 8 within that facility, Morris said.
It would also include construction of a new elementary and intermediate school at the southeast corner of Selma and Possum roads on land owned by the district. The district has four buildings now, but that would decrease to two under the proposal.
The current facilities weren’t designed to meet the needs of a modern school district, Morris said. The elementary facilities have served the district for more than 80 years, he said. About 2,200 students attend the district.
“The buildings have just reached a point that it’s not cost-effective, not particularly safe and not educationally what we want to provide for our students so they can succeed,” Morris said.
Assistant Superintendent Brian Kuhn pointed to a small space at Possum Primary School that previously served as a locker room, and now serves as classroom space. A shower in the space now serves as a coat rack. Many of the classrooms also need to be patched frequently when it rains, he said.
“If you have a bad rain storm, it’s almost like, ‘Where is the leak going to be today?’” Kuhn said. “We’re always trying to play catch-up.”
Scott Woodruff, a parent with students at Reid Primary School and the high school, said he understands that many local residents may have trouble affording higher taxes if the levy passes. But he said it’s also clear the buildings aren’t capable of handling the kinds of technology used in other districts he’s visited.
“That’s always a concern in a society where every entity is looking for some type of assistance,” Woodruff said. “I’m not brushing off the fact it will add a little more burden to the homeowners in the district. I also think you have to look at it as an investment in the neighborhood.”
The district has about a year to pass the levy. After 13 months, the matching funds provided by the state are no longer guaranteed, Morris said, although it’s still possible some funding could be available in the future.
District officials will host informational sessions and answer questions for residents throughout the fall leading up to Nov.8 election, Morris said.
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