Clark-Shawnee Local Schools are back on the ballot asking residents to approve the same school bond issue voters denied in November.
Voters will cast ballots on a $37.2 million bond issue on Tuesday. If it passes, the district will build a new elementary school across the street from Shawnee High School and renovate the high school. Possum, Reid and Rockway elementary schools would closed and likely demolished.
An approval from voters would cost an owner of a of $100,000 property more than $15 a month.
Superintendent Gregg Morris noted that the November decision was close — the bond issue failed by less than 200 votes. And if the district wants the state to pay 30 percent of the cost of the schools, it needs to pass soon.
“We have a 13-month window,” Morris said. “We don’t want to lose that 30 percent of the cost.”
Insufficient technology, electrical infrastructure and continuously leaking roofs are some of the reasons why Morris said he hopes the Clark-Shawnee community will pass the bond issue. However, residents have said that the district needs to figure out how to best serve its students without asking taxpayers to pay more.
“I put three kids through Rockway,” said resident Alan Brown, who has a son in the high school now. “Yeah it is an old school, yeah it’s not as efficient as a brand new school but, on the other hand we are just not in the financial shape to able to afford it. We have to make due with what we have and cut what we need to cut.”
Brown says he plans to vote no on the issue.
Morris said the district invests thousands of dollars in repairs year-after-year, but says there is not much that can be done to the old buildings that would be a good fix. He said the buildings are starting to fall apart, and it’s a danger to the students and teachers.
“We have had two ceilings fall in just the last six months,” Morris said. “It fortunately hasn’t happened when school children have been there but it could. Those where in classrooms.”
PREVIOUS REPORTING: Clark County district asks for $37M for new, renovated schools
Brown said he has spoken with residents in his community and feels that the bond issue will fail again. He said troubles at the district over the past school-year has not helped their cause. Just in the last year, two staff members were arrested at Reid for allegedly stealing student medication, an assistant principal at the high school was arrested and charged with OVI and the high school’s baseball program has been the subject of an internal and criminal investigation.
“A lot of the neighbors are upset about the scandals out of Shawnee,” Brown said. “It has really hurt their effort to get the bond issue.”
Morris said he hopes voters can look pass the mistakes and realize that the school does have a good staff.
“This is a wonderful staff in this district,” Morris said. “I have been superintendent for several years in four districts and I have a faculty here I wouldn’t trade. They are top-notch. That’s why we have the test scores we have. But you don’t have people without mistakes, surely we have had a couple of issues we work to do the right thing to protect our kids and to meet that issue straight forward. And I hope our community recognizes that.”
Brown also said many people who live in the district work in the city. He said the chance of having a higher income tax will influence voters to vote no on the school bond issue.
Morris said the bond issue is an opportunity for the community to make sure the kids have the best educational space possible.
“The average age of our elementaries are 92 years old,” he said. “This district has needed new schools for a long time.
“I hope our community understands that the need is here.”
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