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Public feedback drives changes to school levy

Elementary school students, traffic congestion addressed

Left: Marietta City Schools Treasurer Frank Antill paces out the location of a proposed new pre-k through fifth-grade academic building in the current practice field behind Marietta High School’s gym and auditorium. Inset: If the bond issue before Marietta voters passes Nov. 3, the funds will be split between two new buildings, with all elementary students moved to the Davis/Colegate campus and combining middle and high school students into a new building behind Washington State Community College. (Graphic illustration and photo by Janelle Patterson)

In less than 30 days, voters within the Marietta City School District will decide on whether or not to support the district’s bond issue on the general election ballot.

But when the levy failed last fall, officials had one more year to garner local support before losing state priority for aid in financing the approximately $85 million project.

The state’s share: an estimated $29.4 million.

The city property tax payer’s share over 37 years: an estimated $55.5 million.

“Even with this virus we have tried to listen to the feedback that we got from voters and find a solution that meets those concerns,” said Board of Education President Doug Mallett.

A separate secondary school campus is proposed with the Nov. 3 city schools bond issue. Under one roof in two separate wings, a new upper-level campus would be built between Glendale Extension and Interstate 77. (Illustration courtesy of Marietta City Schools)

He explained that with feedback from voters and through listening sessions held before coronavirus hit, two major concerns have been addressed in this year’s plea to voters:

¯ Keeping elementary students separate from junior high and high school.

¯ Traffic congestion.

“This plan addresses both of those, by splitting up the population,” said Mallet.

The new building plan, as approved by a special board of education meeting last month and submitted to the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission for approval, instead proposes the building of a new singular elementary school on the current practice field behind the high school auditorium and gym.

“Then the current high school gets torn down and we move the high school and middle school kids into the new campus behind Washington State,” explained Frank Antill, treasurer of the district.

An additional concern about losing community schools, Antill and Mallett said, is one that’s unavoidable. Regardless of election results next month, Harmar Elementary and Putnam Elementary are still to close with the planned consolidation of six academic buildings into four in the 2021-22 school year.

But that consolidation doesn’t afford the space or learning environment which Antill said would attract business growth and local job opportunity.

“We looked into the renovation options for our buildings, and even with those the (useful life expectancy) was only a 15 or 20-year window, where building new is a 50-year (useful life),” explained Mallett. “Plus, this works to not only bring together all of the services, and special needs but it also helps those kids who may not be cut out for a four-year college or may not be able to afford it, but can be exposed to the labs and options for good-paying careers by the partnership with Washington State.”

The bond issue is certified for 5.25 mills with 0.5 mill to be set aside each year for maintenance and repairs with the remaining 4.75 mills to pay down the construction loan of $55,670,000 over 37 years.

If the 5.25 mills bond issue passes property owners of a $100,000 home would see approximately $184 a year added to their tax bill.

The 0.5 mills portion is projected to bring in approximately $274,000 annually.

The 4.75 mills portion is projected to bring in approximately $2.6 million annually.

The loan amount for the proposed construction is the same as the failed levy attempt last year, the millage this year is lower than what appeared on the November 2019 ballot because property values increased

Millage last year was 5.36 mills.

See future editions of the Times for additional breakdowns of the educational impacts projected if the levy passes or fails.

According to a summary provided by Board Member Russ Garrison, the proposed bond levy early voters are already casting their ballots on this month (with a deadline of Nov. 3) are weighing the value of 25 areas of concern including (but not limited to) the following:

1. Building consolidation.

2. New construction versus renovation of existing facilities.

3. PK-fifth grade versus PK through sixth grade in one building.

4. Ohio Revised Code requirements.

5. Construction cost estimated escalation annually.

6. Cost of borrowing presently at record lows.

7. Grade level consolidation for better distribution and attention to student needs.

8. Space configuration to enhance teacher collaboration and student learning.

9. Consolidated versus disbursed student support services.

10. Heating/cooling and ventilation within the physical learning environment.

11. Operational costs.

12. Student exposure to advanced education opportunity through proximity to collegiate courses without restrictions of lacking transportation.

13. Safety and security.

14. Mixing disparate maturities.

15. Traffic impact.

Read the summary of those concerns and the district answers here: Marietta City Schools Bond Levy Outline

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