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Get answers to your MCS levy questions

Despite a pandemic economic shutdown, mask mandates and the cancelation of many annual community events, the polls still open Nov. 3 and early voting for the general election has already begun.

On the ballot for residents of Marietta and those living in Reno, Oak Grove, Stanleyville and the outlying unincorporated areas in townships within the Marietta City School District is a bond issue that if successful, would begin the formal designs of two consolidated campuses.

The first, repurposing the existing high school campus into an elementary campus with a new academic building and closing all four of the district’s neighborhood elementary schools.

The second, building a new secondary school campus to include grades 6-12 within two wings of a building set between Glendale Extension, Washington State Community College and Interstate 77.

While readers and voters may understand the millage if the bond issue passes, what questions and concerns remain from our community?

Q: If the bond issue levy fails, do I get to keep my neighborhood elementary school?

A: No.

“We are consolidating to two elementary schools next school year, in fall of 2021,” said MCS Treasurer Frank Antill.

Facilities planning still recognizes a decline in school enrollment and area population, regardless of whether voters choose to authorize building new facilities. At present, it is expected that both Putnam School and Harmar Elementary will close at the end of the 2020-2021 school year.

Q: If the state legislature passes House Bill 305, can state funding be removed from the building project once awarded?

A: No.

“Once they are approved and that’s done, that money is there, it’s guaranteed,” explained Ohio Rep. Don Jones, R-Freeport, who while presently elected to the 95th District, is a retired schoolteacher. “What was ruled unconstitutional was how we’re funding (operational) costs… in order to educate students.”

Jones explained that building new, or building improvement ballot issues, while utilizing the same property tax mechanism as an operations levy, are not subject to the “unconstitutional” ruling of state funding for education in the early 2000s.

Which portions of the planning will most impact your vote for or against the 5.25 mills bond issue for two new buildings?

Ask your questions

The Marietta Times is compiling remaining concerns and questions this week to facilitate your voice getting represented before members of the district school board, administration and staff.

To participate, fill out the online survey: http://bit.ly/LevySurvey

Or email your questions to news@mariettatimes.com.

Or mail your questions to 700 Channel Lane, Marietta, OH 45750; Attn: Janelle Patterson postmarked by Oct. 16.

Questions and concerns received by these three forms will be consolidated and brought forward by the Times to the school district.

Questions received online by Oct. 17 will be included in this discussion.

“Then we can get together and answer those,” confirmed MCS Board President Doug Mallett. “Once [the Times] gets the feedback from the community we can respond… It doesn’t take too many votes to swing from no’s to yeses and be passed or fail, so if we can get them the most information that’s good.”

Mallett said this route allows the public voices to be heard despite coronavirus shutting down plans for multiple town hall meetings, breakout table sessions and community planning hoped for this year before certifying the bond issue.

“We could pull Jona (Hall) in or others depending on what the concerns are,” said Mallett.

The goal of consolidating responses is not only bringing the community to the table with the district, despite physical distancing requirements, but also to maintain reader safety from retribution.

If you participate, your name and contact information will not be shared by the Times with the school district.

By the numbers

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.

How to submit a question:

• Submit your questions and concerns via online survey: http://bit.ly/LevySurvey

• Email your question to news@mariettatimes.com with the subject head “MCS Levy Question.”

• Mail your question to 700 Channel Lane, Marietta, OH 45750; Attn: Janelle Patterson postmarked by Oct. 16.

*Note: Question themes will be compiled and tallied and may be summarized for clarity. Emailed and mailed questions will be added to the data set.

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