Northeastern Local Schools will go back on the ballot May 8 to ask voters to approve new buildings that will cost more than $117 million.
Voters in November rejected a 37-year, $77 million bond issue that would have allowed the district — the second largest in Clark County — to build two new schools to replace its aging ones. The state pledged an additional $40 million to the project if voters pass the bond, bringing the total project to $117 million.
The 2017 bond would have cost an owner of a $100,000 home around $25 a month or $295 a year.
MORE COVERAGE: Northeastern local schools seeks public input on future
The costs will rise slightly for the May bond issue as the state now has mandated Ohio schools build a storm shelter, school officials said. The district is still totaling the final costs with that added requirement.
“It will officially be on the ballot,” Northeastern Superintendent John Kronour said. “We are going to continue to work with the community.”
The school will ask voters to approve a plan that would build two pre-k through 12th-grade buildings close to current schools in the district. The school that would serve the Kenton Ridge side of the district would be built near where Kenton Ridge High School is now. Meanwhile, the new Northeastern building would be built closer to South Vienna.
Both schools would use current athletic fields, though Northeastern would be moving further away.
Voters rejected a similar bond issue in November by a 53 to 47 percent margin.
This time can be different, school board President Jill Parker said.
“We came very close to passing in November,” Parker said. “We had a wonderful and enthusiastic committee and they are still very eager. I believe that we can get it done.”
Better electrical infrastructure, more safety-focused buildings and better heating and air units are just some of the improvements needed in the district, Kronour and Parker said.
“The new buildings will be able to provide the best education possible for students,” Kronour said. “We have a very strong staff working with kids but our facility does not allow them to as effective as they could be.”
The Northeastern school board first voted on the new ballot issue on Jan. 18 and then again during a special board meeting Jan. 25. The resolution to put the issue on the ballot was passed 4-1.
The dissenting vote was board member John Crankshaw, who said he believes the district needs new schools. However, he said the district should combine the district and build one high school.
“The current plan is the wrong plan,” he said during a school board meeting. “I am in favor of the one high school plan. I think that’s the best plan for the district. It puts us in the strongest position long term, both academically and to stay financially healthy for our community.”
When the board was deciding last year what plan to bring to the ballot, other board members said the one high school plan was a good plan but they had concerns about voters agreeing. Residents in the Northeastern community love their schools and have a deep loyalty to their high schools, Parker said last year when explaining her reasoning for supporting the two high school plan.
By the numbers
$117 million: Approximate cost of new schools for Northeastern Local Schools
3,300: Students enrolled in Northeastern Local Schools
2: Buildings the district hopes to build.
The Springfield News-Sun has covered the Northeastern Local Schools bond issue since the district held forums with the community to discuss ideas. The News-Sun will continue to follow all the developments.