West Carrollton voters approved their school bond levy by a huge margin, with yes votes outnumbering no votes by a 63-37 ratio, according to final, unofficial results from the Montgomery County Board of Elections.
The 37-year, 5.6-mill tax increase allows West Carrollton to build four new schools to replace all of its current buildings, with significant financial help from the state.
“The voters said we’re going to take it on our shoulders to design buildings that will last our kids up into the next century,” school district business manager Jack Haag said Tuesday night. “That’s amazing to see our community stand up and take that upon themselves.”
The school for preschool to first grade and another for grades 2-4 will be on the current middle school site, a school for grades 5-6 will be on the current CF Holliday site, and a new grade 7-12 campus on the high school site.
Ohio Facilities Construction Commission documents show that the state will contribute over $92 million to the project. School district officials have said the total principal cost of the project is currently estimated at $124 million, with millions in interest payments on top of that.
“For us to be able to build these buildings at the cost that we’re getting – the money from the state vs. what the locally funded portion is – that’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for this community,” Superintendent Andrea Townsend said last month.
Haag said the project will be done in phases, because of the way state funding will become available. The district will use the bond issue money to immediately plan and construct the preK-1 school and fifth-sixth grade school, with targeted opening dates of fall 2022.
Haag said the next step is to issue a “request for qualifications” for an architect and an engineer to start the design process. He said once those professionals are hired, residents will have some input in the school designs.
“The aesthetics, from the outside of the building, they’ll have some input on what they want the building to look like in their neighborhood,” Haag said. “We’ll also give them some options on finishes on the inside of the building.”
In 3-6 years, when West Carrollton’s turn for Ohio Facilities Construction Commission funding comes up, the district will begin work on the grade 2-4 building and the grade 7-12 campus.
New schools do not automatically trigger better academic results, as Oakwood’s old schools and Dayton’s new ones attest. But West Carrollton officials say new school buildings would help the district in multiple ways, from safety upgrades, to air conditioning in all schools, to better technology and more modern, flexible learning spaces for students and teachers.
The bond issue will cost the owner of a $100,000 home an extra $196 per year. Those who qualify for the homestead exemption would pay less.
“It’s amazing. Sixty-three percent (of the vote) is a great number,” Haag said. “We had a good feeling coming into it. … Our community has been so supportive.”
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