Early voting has started for May election

May election: Oakwood school levy supporters work to explain issue

Those supporting the issue now are working to explain the two parts and to increase awareness before ballots are cast.

If approved, the measures together would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $270 per year, or $175 for the levy and $95 for the bond, according to the Oakwood City Schools Levy Committee that is chaired by Jim and Ellen Vaughn.

The 4.99-mill continuous operating levy would generate $1.6 million annually to cover the district’s day-to-day expenses.

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The 2.7-mill bond would generate $18 million for facility improvements, specifically Phase 1 of the Master Facility Plan. Bond money cannot be used to cover operating costs. The length of bonds is a maximum of 37 years.

“Our goal as a committee is to make sure that the community has the information needed to make an informed decision,” Jim Vaughn said. “We have assembled a strong team of committed community members who have done a great job in getting information about the levy into the public domain.”

A letter was sent to all community members within the last week with information about the two-part levy.

The letter states that Phase 1 of the four-part master plan focuses on prioritized infrastructure at the junior high and high school while including targeted infrastructure improvements at Harman and Smith.

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The updates will allow the buildings to better meet American Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, ensuring all of the facilities are fully accessible to students, staff and visitors. They will also allow the district to operate more efficiently with modern mechanical systems in place, according to school officials.

Vaughn said the district will host a Community Day from 9 a.m. until noon at the junior high school and high school on April 27.

“This is a great chance to tour the schools,” he said.

The committee is also hosting 10 “coffees and chats” with Superintendent Kyle Ramey in order to give community members a chance to meet in a smaller setting in order to get questions and concerns addressed.

“This money would be used to run our classrooms and provide Oakwood’s top student programming,” Ramey said. “Staffing, utilities and instructional materials are paid for with operating dollars.”

Some residents have voiced concerns regarding the issue, citing Oakwood’s tax rates, and some have questioned the need for more spending when Oakwood already is among the state’s best academic performers despite aging schools.

Vaughn said those concerns have been addressed.

“The district has been good stewards of taxpayer money,” he said. “The district spent 73.8 percent of its funds directly on classroom instruction, which ranks seventh out of 273 similar sized districts.”

Ramey explained, “This proactive, financially sensible long-range plan will preserve our current buildings, while addressing their critical needs.”

MORE: Oakwood proposals range from fixes to new schools, but both are costly

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