Carlisle voters to decide $20M school bond issue

Voters in the Carlisle Local School District will decide whether to continue operating four older buildings that district official say have maintenance issues or to build a new $48.9 million K-12 facility with the state picking up 59 percent of the costs.

If approved in May, the 37-year, 6.2-mill bond issue would raise the remaining 41 percent of the local costs or just more than $20.24 million to build the new facility.

MORE: Carlisle schools puts $20M bond issue on May ballot

If the bond issue is approved, it would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $217 a year, according to Warren County Auditor Matt Nolan.

The district has to approve the bond issue in order to receive the funding from the Ohio School Facilities Commission. If voters reject the bond issue, the state funding may not be there at a later date, said Superintendent Larry Hook.

“What we’re trying to do is take advantage of the free state money — nearly 60 percent,” Hook said.

The district tried unsuccessfully to pass a bond issue for a new facility about five years ago.

MORE: State offers Carlisle Schools funds for new buildings

“The costs to renovate the four buildings exceeds the cost to build a new school that is up to state codes,” said Tiffanie Burney, bond issue co-chair. “It’s costing more to maintain the current buildings.”

Burney, who is co-chairing the bond issue campaign with Mollie McIntosh and Courtney Steckel, said the need for new facilities is real.

“Schools serve as a hub for community events,” she said. “For many in the community, (a new school) would improve property values, help stimulate growth and attract new families and businesses.”

Burney said the community has been “mostly positive” about supporting the bond issue and said those who oppose the bond issue don’t want to see their property taxes go up or are older residents who are retired, on fixed income and have no children in the district.

A special town hall meeting designed for older residents has been scheduled for 6:30 p.m. April 10 at Camp Chautauqua. Burney said there will be an ice cream social and an opportunity to get questions answered. She said a number of Carlisle alumni 50 years and older will be speaking about the bond issue.

MORE: Carlisle wants to build $51 million combined school

She said the bond issue would cover the costs of the K-12 building with wings dedicated for high school, middle school, intermediate and elementary classrooms. The new building would also house the district’s central offices.

Burney said there would be two gyms with one seating 1,400 people, a central 500-seat auditorium, parking lot as well as all the furnishings and equipment for the new facility, which will be designed for future expansion. She said the bond issue would also cover the costs for the demolition and asbestos removal of the four buildings.

She said bond issue funds cannot be used for operational costs, such as teacher or administrator salaries.

Burney said some older residents are also asking the district to preserve Chamberlain Middle School, the oldest building in the district that was built in 1930.

She said the district is planning to preserve the bell outside of the building and is looking at ways to use the brick for a memorial garden. Another idea being considered is using part of the Chamberlain gym floor, such as the “C’ at center court as a wall hanging for the new gym.

Longtime resident Jim Gross said he’s supporting the bond issue.

“I think this time around, there has been more community involvement, and it seems there is a great amount of community support,” he said.

Gross is predicting that it will be a close election, which is why its important that everyone to vote.

Another longtime resident, Tom Post, said he “wants to be part of the solution,” but feels there are problems with the bond issue.

“When bond issues are on the ballot, it seems its the schools versus the community,” Post said. “I want to see if there is a way to go get private donations then do a bond issue. That would go down a lot easier.”

He said if a building could be constructed with private funds, the district would not have to follow some state regulations.

“We don’t need a Rolls-Royce, we need a damn good Buick,” Post said. “I’d like to see some kind of working together without drawing battle lines so that everyone can win.”

Hook said many people, including senior citizens have been talking with the bond issue supporters. He also said that there are limited options in a public/private partnership.

“The question is how much more money do we to sink into these buildings?” Hook said. “We’re spending more and more money to keep them running, and there’s only so much money.”

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