It’s official: On July 21, members of the Big Walnut Local School District Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution to place a $133.9 million Bond Issue on the November General Election Ballot.
District treasurer Terri Eyerman-Day has said that the bond issue would be 8.3 mils, and possibly lower.
Members of the district’s facilities committee and Triad Architects used the district’s 2015 enrollment study, with low, most likely, and high-end student population growth projections over the next decade to determine facility needs.
Committee members determined that by 2019, all seven of the school district’s buildings would be at capacity at the low to moderate projection range; and that by 2026, the district will be serving at least an additional 2,000 students.
The committee’s final recommendation for meeting student population growth was to build a new 1,850-student high school on a new site that’s centrally-located, move the middle school students to the high school, move the intermediate students to the middle school, and turn the intermediate school into an elementary school and consolidate in-town preschool at that facility.
The recommendation also includes the construction of one new elementary building.
The committee recommended going on the November ballot because of the four-to-five-year process of designing and building a new high school.
Last Thursday evening’s vote to go on the November 8 ballot was accomplished with very little discussion.
Board member Allison Fagan did note the bond issue’s potential impact on school district residents.
“If people are interested in having conversations about ways to think outside of the box, on how to take care of ourselves as we move through this, I’m interested in exploring creative solutions,” Fagan said.
In a Friday email, board president Mindy Meyer said the school district is running out of classroom space due to rapidly accelerating residential and commercial development.
“In Big Walnut, we’re running out of room and dealing with aging existing buildings at the same time,” Meyer said. “Our Facilities Planning Committee discussed at length the pros and cons of one bond issue versus multiple issues to address both challenges. They felt that developing one comprehensive plan was the better choice to take to the community.
“While none of us wants to pay more taxes, our board members, administrators, and the members of the Facilities Planning Committee believe that these funds are critical to the district in order to maintain adequate facilities for our students as we grow,” Meyer added. “As residents and taxpayers ourselves, we also know that strong schools are a huge contributing factor to maintaining our home values.”
Meyer said a bond issue property tax calculator would be placed on Delaware County Auditor George Kaitsa’s website by the end of this month.
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093