Northeastern to discuss whether to go back on ballot for $117M schools

Northeastern Local Schools Board of Education members remain uncertain if they will go back to the ballot in May after voters in November rejected a plan to build $117 million new schools.

The board member will discuss their options over the next month, board President Chris James said, but don’t want to make any decisions until new board members are sworn in. James and board Vice President Jeff Caivano didn’t run for re-election and will be replaced by John Crankshaw and Jeff Yinger.

RELATED: Northeastern board members debate $100M new school plans

If the board wants to go on the ballot in May, the deadline is early February.

District leaders have said repeatedly that the district must replace its aging schools. Northeastern is the last district in Clark County to have two high schools and is the second largest in Clark County with about 3,300 students.

“Our kids need new buildings,” James said. “There are just no ifs, ands or buts about it. We need new buildings.”

Voters shot down a school bond issue in November that would have constructed two pre-k through 12th grade buildings on either side of the district. One building would have been built near South Vienna School and the other would have been built by Kenton Ridge High School.

The $77 million bond issue would have lasted for 37 years. The state would have picked up the remaining costs. Residents who owned a $100,000 property would have paid about $25 more a month or about $295 annually.

About 53 percent of voters rejected the bond issue and 47 percent approved it.

“I thought we did a great job since I’ve been here trying to educate the public about the needs of the district,” James said. “We only lost by 300 votes and I thought that was pretty good for a first try. There is not discouragement.”

READ: Northeastern releases details for proposed $117M new schools

There are 19 precincts across the Northeastern district. A review of precinct voting data from the Clark County Board of Elections shows 14 of them rejected the bond. But of those 14, five were decided by 3 percent or less.

Residents who voted at Cornerstone Baptist Church and Pleasant Twp. Firehouse provided the largest margin of defeat, according to data from the board of elections.

About 60 percent of Cornerstone Baptist voters said no. Pleasant Twp. Firehouse has two precincts. About 58 percent of those in Precinct 81 and about 52 percent in Precinct 82 voted no.

Also about 57 percent of residents who voted at Northeastern High School, Mid Urbana Mission Baptist Church and Precinct 73 at First Christian Church rejected the bond.

Those interviewed by the Springfield News-Sun who said they voted no on the bond issue said they did so because they either can’t afford the tax hike or don’t believe the district needs new schools. However, none of these voters wanted to talk on the record.

EXTRA: Northeastern survey shows residents split on $100M new schools

It wasn’t all bad news for new school supporters. About 58 percent of Precinct 76 voters at the Moorefield Twp. Firehouse and 57 percent of Precinct 77 voters at First Christian Church cast yes ballots.

The Springfield News-Sun toured South Vienna School this week and saw ceiling tiles have fallen off, a leaky flat roof and spaces that were crammed.

“The buildings are definitely in a major decay. We have done some updates but it’s not fixing everything,” South Vienna Principal Denise Jones said. “This could be an investment in our community.”

By the numbers:

53 percent: Voters who cast no ballots in November’s school bond election.

47 percent: Voters who cast yes ballots in November’s schools bond election.

327: The difference in votes between the bond issue passing and failing.

Staying with the story

The Springfield News-Sun has provided in-depth coverage of the Northeastern school bond issue from the beginning, including stories examining the different proposals for new schools and digging into the costs.

About the Author