LETTER: Bond issue would keep United schools strong

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Editor:

We write to encourage citizens in the United School district to vote yes for United’s future and support the 3.92 bond issue.

We (Lucian Clewell, Electronics 123.com; Peter C. Johnson Jr., Architectural Ceramic Products/Summitville Tiles, Susan Kiewall, Kiewall Florists; Barb Kudor, KOA Campgrounds/Stone Ridge Terrace; Jeremy Minor, Minor Insurance; and Karl Stoudt, retired businessman) were asked to serve on a financial task force to review the district’s financial status and determine if United can continue to meet its obligations if a new bond issue is passed.

We met on four occasions, and Ruth Ann Rinto (United superintendent) and Kathy Davies (United treasurer) provided access to statements, budgets, 5 year plans, and answered any questions asked. We had complete access to all financial records. Ron Victor, president of Leadership Ideas from Willoughby, Ohio, assisted us with our meetings.

We also met with representatives of the Ohio School Facilities Commission and Buehler Architecture, who will design the new facilities. And we met with Stifel Nicolas & Co. to review the process in choosing the best option for a facilities improvement plan.

We questioned what savings could be appreciated by passage of this issue such as energy efficiencies and less maintenance of state-of-the-art facilities. We reviewed the concerns regarding renovation and the building of new wings.

Without passage of this bond issue, United will face a future with large amounts of money needed for upkeep and renovation — probably as much as is currently being requested.

The best way to determine if United can meet its future obligations is by reviewing processes of governance. The annual line item budget recommendations and management goals and objectives is a successful blueprint for continuing fiscal responsibility. This process has guided United school boards for many years and the results have been successful with no strikes, strife, or turmoil. A school rated Excellent by the state.

Some tough decisions have been made by the board and staff, such as co-pays for benefits by teachers and staff. We believe this board and future boards, staff and teachers will continue to be fiscally responsible and dedicated to what is best for the students at United Local Schools.

The taxes for this district are reasonable for our size. Not the highest or the lowest, but close to the middle. Even with passage of the bond issue, our taxes will still be reasonable when compared to the other districts in our county.

We believe a renovated school is needed and will attract people to our community who want to raise a family in the best school district in Columbiana County. This will help keep property values from declining.

But best of all is the deal to raise almost $9 million via this bond issue to get a $39 million school subsidized by tobacco lawsuit funds from the state of Ohio. One comment heard at a meeting was “Would you buy $9 million dollars’ worth of lottery tickets if you knew you would win $39 million?”

Our committee agrees with the board that this is a legitimate request to modernize United schools with efficient infrastructure and facilities designed to educate in an ever-changing world.

We strongly encourage the support of our Board of Education and the passage of this 3.92 bond issue in November.

Peter C. Johnson Jr.
Hanover Township, Ohio

(The author wrote this on behalf of the United School Financial Task Force.)

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