Clark-Shawnee likely to go to voters 3rd time for new schools

The Clark-Shawnee Local School Board of Education likely will go back to voters for the third time in a year seeking to build a new elementary school and renovate its high school.

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Board members approved a resolution of necessity to put a $37 million bond issue before voters in August. It’s the first step required to get on the ballot and board members will have to take another vote before May 10 to finalize putting the issue before voters.

The bond issue has been set for 5.3 mills for 37 years, which would cost the owner of $100,000 home more than $15 a month.

“One of the comments in the paper was that we need to wait a year, but the public needs to understand this money from the state is gone in August,” school board President David Dehart said. “We can’t wait.”

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The total cost of the plan to renovate Shawnee High School and build a new elementary school across the street is $52.8 million. The three existing primary schools — Reid, Possum and Rockway — would close under the plan.

The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission has offered to pay 30 percent of the cost if residents approve a bond issue for the rest. Voters have turned down the $37 million bond issue twice — in November by 174 votes and on Tuesday by 113 votes.

“This is our last shot at the state’s 30 percent co-funding,” Assistant Superintendent Brian Kuhn said. “It is guaranteed right now. After the window closes, it will no longer be that way. We will have to pass the issue first, and then wait to see if we get the money.”

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Some residents who don’t support the bond issue have said the community can’t afford to pay higher taxes. The Rockway area has been the toughest for the board to win support. The bond issue failed at that precinct by more than the difference of the election.

The board president noted in November more than 3,000 residents supported the plan — which is more than the total number of votes cast in Tuesday’s election.

“There is support for our plan but we need voters to come out and support us because this is a real need for our students and our community,” Dehart said.

He said the money spent on going back on the ballot is little compared to other expenses the school district has to pay.

“If you look at $15,000 over the $15 million from the state, it’s nothing,” Dehart said. “We don’t have a choice. I am sure there will be some that criticize us but when you look at losing $15 million, you can’t risk that.”

Not passing the bond issue and losing the money designated by the state is a worst case scenario because of the need for a new building, Dehart said.

The board discussed meeting again Monday, but a time hadn’t been set.

By the Numbers

$52.8 million: The total cost for a new elementary school and to renovate Shawnee High School

$37.2 million: The cost to taxpayers for the new school and renovations.

$15.6 million: The total amount the state will pay for through the Ohio School Facility Commission.

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