Voters to decide on Issue 7

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By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

When voters go to the polls on Nov. 6, they will see a measure called Issue 7 that, if approved would allow the South-Western City Schools District to participate in a state partnership that would replace or renovate multiple buildings at the middle school level.

What makes this measure different from other school ballot requests, explained Treasurer Hugh Garside, is that it seeks the replacement of retiring bond debt.

“Because this is a no-new millage request, homeowners will not see their taxes rise should Issue 7 be approved,” he said.

Since the board of education authorized the 1.86-mill bond issue to be placed on the Nov. 6 ballot in July, Garside said the tax-raising question is one he has fielded the most when speaking to the public.

“I think when people hear that a school district is going to be on the ballot, they assume it’s going to raise taxes,” he said. “Again, this is not that request.”

It will be similar, he said, to the no-new millage bond issue that voters approved in 2012 which allowed the district to partner with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission to replace 13 elementary schools, renovate two others and build a new Franklin Heights High School.

That project, Garside said, was “on time and under budget.”

“It was a very successful partnership,” he said.

Garside, along with other district officials, say they are confident the second phase will run just as smoothly.

Should voters approve Issue 7, the state would contribute $60 million of the core cost of the estimated $163 million project. Under the agreement, there will be the replacement of four middle schools (Brookpark, Finland, Norton and Pleasant View), renovations at Jackson Middle and additional renovations and repairs at East Franklin Elementary; along with asphalt and roofing repairs at additional schools.

According to district Superintendent Dr. Bill Wise, the construction project will bring these schools, a majority of whom were built in the 1950s and 1960s, up-to-date with the safety demands and instructive needs of this era.

Current plans call for the replacement of three middle schools to be at their existing site, said Wise, while Brookpark would be moved to either the Central Crossing campus or at a future site in the Beulah Park development.

“If Brookpark should be integrated into the Beulah development, we would look at moving Pleasant View into the Central Crossing campus,” Wise said.

Should Issue 7 be approved, Wise said the next steps would be to sell bonds in the winter, begin the design phase, go to bid, make design modifications and start construction in the late summer or early fall of 2019. The entire project is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2022.

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