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Reynoldsburg schools' real estate tax collections to fall short
It was a case of "good news, bad news" for the Reynoldsburg school board April 15, as they celebrated the passage of a bond issue and later received a gloomy forecast from the treasurer.
Superintendent Steve Dackin thanked the community and the campaign co-chairs for the passage of the 4.9-mill bond issue that will allow the district to construct a second high school and another elementary building, along with renovations to other facilities.
"The community decided to invest in itself and they will see the benefit," Dackin said of the issue that passed by a margin of 186 votes.
The bond issue will generate $56 million in local funds, and secure $55 million from the Ohio School Facilities Commission.
The success was due to the "hard work of many, but few outworked our co-chairs" Dackin said.
Len Hartman, Ginita Kirksey, and Linda and Roger Scheetz were recognized at the meeting.
"It was a great experience for me," Kirksey commented.
The passage is being followed up by an effort labeled Reynoldsburg Reach, with 27 meetings in 60 days to gather input from residents and district faculty on the future direction of the construction projects.
The meetings are designed to answer two questions, Dackin said - does Reynoldsburg want to have one or two high schools, and does the community prefer six traditional elementary schools or one or more "schools of choice" focusing on academic areas.
Options being presented to the community include having two high schools for grades 9-12; a building for 9-10 and another for 11-12; or small "schools of choice" within the buildings.
Community meetings are scheduled for April 22, Herbert Mills; April 23, Waggoner Road Junior High; April 29, Graham Road; May 1, Hannah Ashton Middle School; May 6, Rose Hill; May 8, Baldwin Road Junior High; May 13, Taylor Road; May 15, Slate Ridge; May 22, French Run; and May 29, Reynoldsburg High. All meetings will take place at 7 p.m.
The meetings are the fulfillment of a promise made to residents during the campaign, the superintendent said.
"It's important to have people participate," Dackin said. "This is an opportunity to shape the future for generations of students."
The comments gathered will be included in a report to the school board, which will make the final decision.
Board member Chip Martin noted that there is a perception in the community that the meetings will delay the opening of the new high school.
Assistant Superintendent Dan Hoffman responded that the district has undertaken the accelerated calendar of meetings to speed the process along, so they can talk to architects about the designs.
Martin also pointed out that, with more than 12,000 votes cast, the issue passed by a mere 186 votes.
He urged the district to find a way to get the more than 6,000 voters who cast ballots against the issue to support their efforts, particularly with an operating levy looming.
The celebratory mood was somewhat subdued by Treasurer Mitchell Biederman's report that the district is expected to fall $800,000 short in its real estate tax collections for the year.
The district has received its settlement from Franklin County and is still waiting to hear from Licking County. But the treasurer does not expect that the report is going to change the outcome much.
Biederman attributed the shortfall to tax refunds, property re-valuations and the proliferation of foreclosures.
Walk this way
While the district takes the next steps in its building program, Herbert Mills Elementary teacher Cindy Morehart is getting the students walking a year before her own attempt to conquer the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail.
In February, the board approved Morehart's request for a sabbatical from May to September 11, 2009, to make the trek and create educational and fitness programs around her effort.
One of those efforts will be the "Look Who's Walking" program, in which the students will be encouraged to match Morehart's mileage.
The program will begin in the fall, but there will be a kick-off May 5, with the kids walking every other day on a half-mile course outlined at the school.
Morehart is recruiting local celebrity walkers, and invited board members and administrators to walk with the kids for an half and 15 minutes.
A committee at the school has been formed to plan the walking program. Teachers will also plan lessons about everything from geography to culture tied to Morehart's journey from the border of Mexico, along the Pacific coast to Canada.
Morehart, who has hiked on seven continents, including Antarctica, mounted a similar effort when she walked the Appalachian Trail in 2000. She continues to give lectures on her experience.
"I anticipate this program will go on for years," Morehart said, "not just in Columbus, and not just in Ohio. It's going to be across the country."
The board voted to hire Steve Evans, to be the new head football coach at the high school on a one-year contract.
Evans had previously worked at Teays Valley High School.
"I want to lay a foundation for the program for years to come," Evans said. "I guarantee that our young men will play hard, and that they will play with class and discipline."
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