Letters to the EditorBig Walnut School Bond Levy(In alphabetical order)


YOUR VIEW

“Take time to be educated with facts”

Dear Editor,

I encourage voters to take time to be educated with facts before voting FOR the school bond issue on November 8, and not be misled by some community members who propagate inaccurate or misleading data as part of a smear campaign towards our district. For those who have lived in the community through past school ballot issues, we see the same names behind the Anti-School funding movement.

I have followed with interest the “news” and social media posts from the Buxton team opposing the school bond issue. They reference (with no data to substantiate) a $44.8 million plan the district had for dealing with growth in our district. I have taken the time to review the response to this letter that was posted on the district’s website. This letter provides data that clearly explains the need for the bond issue and the $133.9 million plan.

After reviewing both perspectives, it is apparent Ron Buxton’s assertion could only be based on a working document from the earliest phases of the district’s planning process. In response to Buxton’s Public Records request, the district provided many documents from the Facility Committee planning meetings, yet he chose to pick a single page planning document from the beginning of a 9-month process to make up an alternate plan that never existed.

The district has been very transparent about the need for the bond issue and addressing questions of district residents, including recent purchase of the current administration building, enrollment and capacity study and school funding sources. It is a privilege to live in a growing community and supporting our school growth is needed to continue our success as a community.

Sincerely,

Todd Hathaway

Sunbury

“Taxing property owners to finance schools is unconstitutional”

Dear Editor,

I am writing to express my opposition to the Big Walnut 8.3 mills, $133,900,000 bond issue on the Nov. 8th ballot.

In 1997, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that taxing property owners to finance schools is unconstitutional. Therefore, by now, schools should have gone to sales taxes or earned income taxes for their financing. What part of that ruling do they not understand?

If the district is growing as fast as they predict (and I highly doubt their figures) they should be working on another way to finance schools because property owners are getting sick and tired of being taxed for anything the administration thinks they need.

This is an outrageous amount of money to lay on property owners and their heirs. I am ashamed of the BW Board of Education for approving this issue. Their constituents should take note the next time they come up for re-election and vote them out.

School administrators tend to hand-pick who they want on the Board. I attended the BW school board meetings for more than 10 years and only once in all that time did a board member voice “no” when a vote was taken. Anything the administration wants is approved across the board.

Athletic facilities cost too much to build and maintain. Athletics should not be part of a school budget paid for by taxpayers. Athletics are not part of the education process. They are an extracurricular activity. They should be privately financed.

This tax will hurt the district as a whole. My taxes will go up 30 percent. Farmers will be hurt because crop prices fluctuate year to year. Businesses will be hurt as residents will have less money to spend. Renters will see an increase in their rent payments. Some of the very people who will suffer are founders of the school district!

I have been associated with the Big Walnut Schools since 1944. As a student, parent, grandparent and teacher, and as a property tax payer. We have been in situations like this before. There is nothing wrong with module classrooms. I taught in one for several years at BWE and I loved it. And you can add them as you need them.

I urge all voters in the Big Walnut School District to vote against this bond issue.

Jane Jackson

Galena

“I can tell you firsthand that these hallways are crowded”

My name is Emily Kuederle. I am 14 years old and a freshman at Big Walnut High School. I am asking voters to support the Big Walnut School Bond issue on November 8.

As a student, I have a very different perspective than those who do not walk down the hallways of Big Walnut schools every day. I can tell you firsthand that these hallways are crowded. Getting to class in four minutes is a struggle, especially when it comes to fighting my way up the stairs. You may be able to relate to this with a traffic delay on your way to a meeting. Traffic is not an excuse. You just have to face the consequences.

This metaphor is not an exaggeration, and the numbers are real. Right now, there are 3,660 students in the district, and growing. This means less room in classrooms, hallways, staircases, and even bathrooms. With so many students in one classroom, a teacher is not able to provide the individualized attention needed.

The students in the lower grades are at greater risk. In four years, my time will be done. I won’t have to deal with crowded school buildings, but my younger brother will. My little neighbor kids will. My friends’ younger siblings will. This bond affects these kids the most.

When you go to the polls on November 8, think about the children in the community and how this affects them. It’s up to you to decide in which way this community goes. Voting yes will increase opportunities for students and provide a better, safer schooling experience. This will result in more successful individuals of the future.

With Eagle Pride,

Emily Kuederle

“The time is NOW to pass the bond issue”

In response to the letter from Jane Jackson of Galena that was published and has been circulating around social media, I would like to set the facts straight in regard to our decision to place a bond issue for Big Walnut Schools on the November ballot.

Ms. Jackson expressed doubt in the enrollment numbers shared by the school district. In connection with the District’s bond issue, a 10-year enrollment projection is required by law. The enrollment study is not conducted by the district, but by an independent firm. Firms that conduct such studies use proven methodologies to arrive at their findings. A number of local school districts have used the same firm and their enrollment numbers have been highly accurate. Results of Big Walnut’s enrollment study projected significant future student enrollment and guided the decision to place a bond issue on the ballot. We remain confident in the enrollment projections and the need for additional space.

The facts support the need for new space to accommodate our students. Looking back to 1991 when the current high school was built, the district’s enrollment was 2,496 students (701 in the high school). The enrollment number today is 3,657, with the current K-8thgrade classes an average of 32% larger than our most recent graduating class. The district overall is growing at twice the rate it was just five years ago. Delaware County is the fastest and one of the only growing counties in the state. The time is NOW to pass the bond issue and begin the process of building new schools to accommodate the growth in student enrollment. Our school district wants to avoid using operating money to pay for classroom trailers which are not only costly and energy inefficient, but also pose a safety risk.

Thank you,

Mindy Meyer

President

Big Walnut Board of Education

“There is a strong correlation good schools and a healthy business environment”

Dear Editor,

I am writing on behalf of the Sunbury/Big Walnut Area Chamber of Commerce in support of the bond issue for Big Walnut Schools.

There is no doubt that the Big Walnut area is growing. One of the major draws to this region is our public schools. Ranked in the top 100 schools in Ohio by U.S. News and World Report, it is obvious that Big Walnut Schools are outstanding.

The Chamber of Commerce believes that there is a strong correlation between good schools and a healthy business environment. The proposed bond will provide the resources needed by our schools to respond to the growth in the district by constructing new buildings and repairing existing facilities.

To maintain the quality education our schools provide, even with record enrollment, we are encouraging the community to support our Big Walnut Schools on November 8. Their success is our success!

Respectfully,

Chauncey Montgomery, President

Sunbury/Big Walnut Area Chamber of Commerce

“The students in Big Walnut Schools are counting on us”

I am writing in support of the Big Walnut Schools bond issue on the ballot.

As more families move into this community we are seeing our class sizes swell. Our younger grades are considerably larger than the current graduating class. Our teachers aim to provide exceptional instruction to all of the students, but as the classes get larger, that becomes more and more difficult. Busing students away from their neighborhood school to one that has space is a temporary solution. A new elementary would take 2 years to build and during that time we will exceed capacity at each of the elementary schools we have now.

The money that will be generated from this bond will not only allow for our district to add the space they need and make many much needed improvements, but will hopefully eliminate the need to purchase trailers to use as classroom space. I know that our teachers would make the best of the situation and our students would learn. The problem with trailers is that in order to pay for them, money is pulled from our district’s operating budget, which will lead to budget cuts. It could be technology, teachers, specials, or support staff, but most likely we will see cuts in all of those areas. It will impact each student in some way.

Our schools are reaching maximum capacity and there does not seem to be an end in sight to the growth that is occurring. We can’t afford to wait another year to start planning and building for the future. The students in Big Walnut Schools are counting on us to vote YES.

Jen Nieset

Big Walnut parent

“Question the past and future prudence of the current administration”

The Big Walnut School district will have a levy on this November’s ballot for voters to approve or decline the building of two new schools. In the past, I have always said that I would support levies as it supports our district’s kids and in turn our future. I also should have a positive effect on my property value.

First a little background, my wife and I moved to the district 19 years ago with our four children. All four graduated from Big Walnut (2006, ’09, 12 & ’14) and all participated in various school activities including athletic teams. In the early 2000’s I was in charge of the local youth baseball program and then from 2005 -2012 was the booster president for the HS baseball program. During these years I worked with many other volunteers raising funds for the baseball teams which in turn benefited the student-athletes. The majority of what was purchased was done through fundraising by volunteers. This is true for basically all of the sports programs in the district as my wife and I also participated in other sports programs fundraising as well.

I also attended most of the High Schools overall booster meeting as the baseball representative. During those meetings we were provided with spending the Athletic Director had planned and basically of his budget. Nothing really was out of line with his budget or spending.

When our youngest son graduated in 2012 I concluded my time as baseball booster president, though continued to help in an advisory manner. When our daughter graduated in 2014 that ended our kids participation in high school sports. I then was a volunteer coach for the freshman baseball teams in 2015 & ’16 and assisted the new baseball boosters in an advisory capacity. It was in 2015 that several changes occurred. The district had a new Superintendent and High School athletic director and in 2016 a new High School principal.

What I witnessed in 2015 and ’16 in spending by the current Athletic Director has made me question my previous support for levies as a taxpayer. The Athletic Director should be supervised by the principal and in turn by the Superintendent and held accountable. In my opinion, I do not believe this to be the case, to the point, during the past two years I really question the past and future prudence of the current administration to be responsible with my tax dollars.

I know of four instances where this occurred, the most questionable was the purchase of a quarter of a million scoreboard for the football stadium. Funds were not raised ahead of time for the purchase and at the time of writing this, still not funded by booster fund raising. The AD has allegedly pledged to pay the district back over time with attempted fundraising, though that fundraising and sources were not in place at the time of purchase and were not at the end of the 2016 school year. In addition to all this at the June school board meeting the Athletic Director’s contract was granted a three year extension.

In summary, I will not be voting in favor of any levy going forward while the current administration is in place (Athletic Director, High School principal, District Superintendent and her administrative assistant). I do not have the confidence in the persons currently holding those positions to prudently utilize my hard earned tax dollars and will not until either the persons in those positions change or hopefully their actions change.

Respectfully,

Dan Shaw

“Personal attacks made towards those supporting the levy”

The purpose of my letter is not an attempt to persuade you to vote for, or against, the November Big Walnut Local Schools Bond Issue. I would encourage all district residents to research all of the facts presented and vote based on those facts.

The purpose of this letter is to express my concern about the personal accusations directed towards Big Walnut school board members, administrative personnel and campaign organizers.

I have attended Big Walnut Local School Board meetings for over 24 years. During this time I have gotten to know every school superintendent, assistant superintendent, treasurer, school board members and dozens of other administrators and public sector volunteers. These individuals do everything they can to provide the best educational environment for our most precious possession, our children.

During my 36 years as a resident of the Big Walnut Local School District many levies have been presented to the public. Some of these have passed, and others have not. Whatever the outcome the school board and administrators have respected the voters decision and moved forward accordingly.

In none of these campaigns have I seen the type of personal attacks made towards those supporting the levy.

If anyone has questions or concerns about the bond issue please pick up the phone or email an administrator, facility committee member or campaign representative with your questions. They will provide you with any information you require to make an informed decision. Personal accusations and name calling directed against those representing the passage of the levy will only serve to divide the residents of our districts.

As Big Walnut residents, we’re better than that.

Thank you.

Bob Singer

36-year Big Walnut Local School resident

“We cannot let our school district down!”

Dear Editor:

I am asking for your support for the Big Walnut Schools Bond Issue. I have lived in Sunbury since 1978 and while the area has grown tremendously, I love that Big Walnut still has that small town feel. However, as the community grows, so must our schools. Even with the obvious growth, there are those who would have you believe otherwise.

As with any political campaign, there are facts and there are rumors. This is no different in our community. I clearly remember the bond issue we passed to build the current high school which we are now outgrowing. I also recognize the names of long-time Sunbury families who vociferously oppose all school issues. Regardless of how little or how much is being asked for, they try to pass their opinions as facts to deter people from voting for any school issue.

No one wants their property taxes to increase; I think we all can agree on that. But we cannot let our school district down! School funding is an enormous issue that needs attention at the federal and state levels. If we do nothing until funding is reformed, our school system will deteriorate, negatively affecting our property values and the future of our community. I encourage you to take your concerns with school funding to the state now in hopes of future reform. Don’t hold our local district responsible. They are doing the best they can to operate within the confines of the system we have.

I am voting YES to support our schools, and ask that you do the same. If you have questions, please read the information on www.bwls.net to get the facts and make your choice.

Sincerely,

Sara Weaver

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YOUR VIEW