Orange ribbons and yard signs speckle the lawns of residents in New Middletown urging voters to approve a 2.5-mill bond issue on May 7.
The Springfield Local School Board is hoping voters approve the issue allowing for the construction of a new elementary school, which would replace the current 90-year-old building.
“Is it as safe as it could be? Certainly not,” said school board member Jon Schoenike. “Is it something that we aspire for our kids to be learning and being educated in? No.”
The Ohio School Facilities Commission ranks the structure as the seventh worst in the state. Water damage, along with electrical, heat and ventilation problems, are just a few of the issues with the aging structure.
Principal Tom Yazvac said cramped classrooms can’t support the latest technology, and the layout design makes students vulnerable.
“The foundation is crumbling below. We have wooden floor joists that do not meet today’s standards,” said Yazvac. “As people come through the doorway, the office is after they hit kindergarten classrooms.”
The last attempt at a bond issue in the district failed. This time, the state will provide 48 percent of the $12.3 million needed for the construction project. Taxpayers would pay the remaining 52 percent. The bond issue would ultimately cost taxpayers approximately $76.56 a year on a $100,000 home.
The idea of an increase in property tax isn’t sitting well with some voters, even though school officials said repairing the current building isn’t cost-effective.
“They can’t keep coming to senior citizens like myself for extra money,” said voter David Morway. “When we’re on fixed incomes, what are we going to do? We got to give up something. We’re going to eat or pay this?”
But even in the Morway household, not everyone agrees with that logic. Morway’s wife, Mariann Morway, said she wants to see a new school built and thinks it would be good for the community.
“Children learn better in a better environment, and I just think it’s good for property values,” said Morway.
Other school districts in the Valley will be going to voters next week for support in funding various projects and expenditures. In Boardman, a 5.9-mill renewal levy is on the ballot for current operating expenses and a 1.6-mill replacement levy is on the ballot to help improve security. In Columbiana County, a 1.23-mill bond is on the ballot for improvements at the middle school.