Oakwood schools seeking new money with two-part May ballot issue

The city school district’s board of education members have taken the final step to place a two-part request on the May 7 ballot.

Oakwood City School District will ask voters to approve a combined ballot issue with two distinct parts: a 4.99-mill operating levy and 2.7-mill bond issue.

MORE: Oakwood schools seeking levy to fund Master Facilities Plan

If approved, the measures together would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $270 per year, according to school officials, or $175 for the levy and $95 for the bond.

The 4.99-mill operating levy would generate $1.6 million annually.

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

The operating levy would be first payable in 2020 and would be continuing, he said.

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.

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In November, the school board voted to accept a Master Facilities Plan Report that includes projects that could run through 2038. The four-phase plan includes preserving current buildings with infrastructure improvements, addressing performing arts rehearsal space issues and exploring the concept of an Early Learning Center for pre-kindergarten through first-grade students that could also serve as community space.

“We are keenly aware of the investment our residents already make in the Oakwood Schools,” Ramey said. “No one wants to raise taxes, but we believe the schools represent a great return on your investment. These operating dollars will allow us to retain a quality staff and provide an exceptional quality of education, preparing all of our kids for their very bright futures. This request is the lowest ask for operating dollars in 30 years. We have been good stewards of your money and will continue to work efficiently and effectively.”

Many residents voiced concerns about keeping buildings intact and preserved. Ramey said there concerns have been heard as the plan moves forward.

“Throughout the Master Facility Plan process, we have engaged the community. We have heard loud and clear the desire to maintain and preserve our beautiful and iconic buildings,” he said. “Our plan honors those desires. The four-part plan is proactive, and taking action now will help us avoid a much larger financial challenge in the future that would divert funds from the classroom.”

Phase 1 prioritizes foundational infrastructure at the Junior and Senior High buildings, and targeted infrastructure at Smith and Harman to address critical upgrades, according to school officials.

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