AUSTINTOWN $32M school bond issue denied

The bond issue would have allowed the board to replace the middle school. Now repairs will be made as needed.
AUSTINTOWN -- Austintown Middle School was placed on "life support" when the school board's $32 million bond issue was defeated by voters Tuesday, according to Superintendent Richard Denamen.
The 3.9-mill, 26-year bond issue would have permitted the school board to pay for the construction of a new junior high school and the renovation of Frank Ohl Middle School. The new school and the renovations would then have allowed the board to sell or demolish Austintown Middle School, which is 85 years old and in need of repair.
Old building: Denamen said that because the bond issue failed, "We still have to continue to bandage an old building."
"The problem isn't going to go away, it's still an 85-year-old building that needs to be dealt with," he said. Denamen added that he felt it was "unfortunate" that some of the bond issue's opponents have not proposed another plan to pay for the repairs.
Recent pictures taken of the school's interior show wiring hanging from ceilings, debris falling from walls, and water leaking from the school's roof. Denamen said the board does not plan on making major repairs to the school.
Instead, he said the board will deal with repairs as problems arise.
Kindergarten: Denamen also noted that because of Tuesday's vote, plans to create all-day kindergarten classes in the district are on hold. The board was thinking about realigning the district to create space for all-day kindergarten after the new buildings were constructed.
Approval of the bond issue would have allowed the board to meet some of its responsibilities under the Ohio School Facilities Commission's Expedited Local Partnership Program. The program calls for the state to pay 39 percent of the cost of bringing the schools up to state standards.
The state money isn't expected to be available until 2009.
Denamen said that the board still plans on participating in the partnership program and will be looking for other local funding sources.
In Boardman, meanwhile, township voters approved a 1.7-mill, 3-year renewal levy to pay for emergency requirements in the school district.

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