United Local school district residents have the opportunity to vote May 3 on a 3.92 mill bond issue for $9.75 million. If approved, United would partner with the Ohio School Facilities Commission to build a new K-12 building.
The OSFC would pay 79 percent of the $38 million cost and United residents would pay 21 percent. The OSFC plan includes the building, utilities and all furnishings needed to educate our students.
I would like to clear up some misconceptions. First, United facilities have been well maintained for more than 60 years. There have been 11 additions to the initial building from 1951. An independent assessment conducted during the OSFC process determined United’s building is not up to today’s standards.
Our building looks fine, however appearances can be deceiving. Come to the school and take a tour and see: our 1971 boiler; windows that don’t open and can’t be repaired; original 1950s asbestos tile floors; “spaghetti” wires for technology needs; 1966 kitchen stoves; leaking, water damaged areas; brick walls needing re-pointed; floor to ceiling cracks; inefficient lighting; a noisy ventilation system.
Also the flat roof on our building will need replaced in 10 years. All those repair costs are pegged at $3.9 million. Don’t take my word … come and see.
Second, won’t there be a separate maintenance levy for the new building? Ordinarily the OSFC does require a .5 mill levy; they want to be sure the district can maintain the new facilities. Since United has a continuing .5 percent income tax, a portion of the funds (equaling the .5 mill) can be put in a “permanent” account for maintenance. This satisfies OSFC requirements, so a separate levy is not needed.
Third, some have questioned the “community use” of United facilities. United has encouraged community usage, including the Community Scholarship breakfast, Little Eagles programs, booster clubs, PTO, alumni, dinners, meetings, programs, recreation, church services, concert, and various other events.
Some have mistakenly believed “community use” equates to “community center” and that United’s building would become a fully-staffed operation. That is not the intention or plan of the board of education. Instead, the three-story classroom area could be used during the school day by community groups. Other possibilities include a library or medical facility; they would pay for use of our facilities.
The OSFC has offered United $30 million to build a new facility; we are number one on their funding priority list.
Unfortunately, no “rich uncle” has stepped forward to offer $9.75 million for United’s OSFC share, or $3.9 million to take care of repairs for the next ten years, so it’s up to United voters to decide our future.
Do we want to pay 100 percent to keep repairing our current building, or do we want to pay 21 percent to build a completely furnished, state-of-the-art, new facility? United voters — the choice is yours.
Sincerely, Sue Drotleff
(The author is president of the United Local Board of Education.)