On Feb. 8, the voters of Warren Local School district will be voting on a bond issue that will greatly impact the school system in the future.
The bond issue which would make possible the construction of new schools, and is on the ballot for the third time, is hovering over the heads of tax payers, school employees as well as students. At stake is more than new facilities, but also the existence of academic and extracurricular programs and the expenditure of money to continue repairing existing buildings.
Many oppose the bond issue because the district "needs to live within its means," or learn to operate the schools more efficiently. Some oppose the bond issue because they feel taxes are too high already, though the bond issue would raise taxes just 74 cents per day (based on a house with a tax appraisal value of $100,000), with the Ohio School Facilities Commission offering to pay 58 percent of the money to build a new school.
Many taxpayers see the problem being solved by Warren employees taking salary cuts and taking better care of the schools with the money they do have, again to "live within their means," but Warren Local says they've been doing quite a bit to save money such as employees refusing raises, and terminating 50 full-time positions in the past five years alone. Warren Local already spends less money per pupil than any other surrounding district. If the bond issue does not pass, it is possible that up to 12 more positions will be cut. Warren Local has been making repairs to the school such as replacing tiles, boilers, roofs and windows. Regardless of the bond issue's outcome, the state funding is predicted to decrease for schools in Ohio. This is why if the bond issue does not pass, on its third time up for vote, teaching positions and electives may be cut. "Continuing to spend large sums of money to repair old buildings will now take away from teaching children," said Rod Rauch, Industrial Arts teacher of Warren High School. Warren Local needs to continue to make repairs to the schools, such as replacing boilers that are over 30 years old, or repairing roofs to rid the halls of indoor gutter system, but with the state funding being cut Warren will be forced to "live within their means" by making unwanted cuts.
The opposition of the bond issue may not just be higher taxes or the belief that Warren Local hasn't done enough to maintain the current facilities; another problem may in fact be ignorance. In a survey of 79 students, 48 percent of students admitted to knowing nothing or very little about the bond issue. Students at Warren High School may not only misunderstand the full effects of the bond issue passing or failing, but some students simply don't feel the need to care. It's a common cliche that kids here plan to leave the "small-town" vibe behind and move on to bigger places, so naturally they don't feel compelled to be concerned about the future well being of the schools. Some students believe that they are "gonna move in a couple years to a better place," as a student said when asked of his thoughts on the bond issue.
Students, Warren employees and taxpayers in the district will all be affected differently. The students of Warren would benefit from the bond issue passing, resulting in keeping the extra curricular activities and new schools better equipped to prepare and teach them. The extracurricular programs are being considered to be cut, or some may be changed to pay-to-participate activities to cover salaries. Faculty of Warren would benefit from the bond passing, especially those teaching classes that will possibly be cut. Courtney Clark, hired just last August as Warren Local band director, advised his students, "Get your parents to come to the meetings and learn what's going on," he told his students during class one day.
With election day coming close of Feb. 8, it isn't long until the fate of Warren Local Schools is decided by voters. If the bond issue passes, new schools will be built and taxes will rise, if the bond issue does pass, for the third time, the students are facing possible cuts of extracurricular activates and electives, up to 12 positions may be cut, and the indoor gutters in Building 5 will hang over the heads of students for years to come.
Caitlyn Hall is a Warren High School student.