Mathews’ bond issue in limbo — for now

By Jordan Cohen

VIENNA — Schools Superintendent Lee Seiple said he will wait until two new members of the Mathews Board of Education take office in January before discussing resubmission of the $22.5 million bond issue that was rejected by voters Tuesday.

The issue, financed by an 8.1-mill levy, was turned down by nearly 59 percent of more than 3,000 voters who cast ballots. The bond issue would have funded construction of one kindergarten-through-12th-grade school to replace the district’s four buildings, which would have been demolished.

“My feeling is that the [current] board would not submit it again, but with new members coming on board, we’ll address it to them and see how they feel,” Seiple said.

The board of education will change in January because two members, Roy Pratt and Robert Thompson, decided to not seek re-election. They will be replaced by Brian Stidham, who was elected Tuesday, and one of the four write-in candidates who jointly garnered more than 1,000 votes. Seiple said he expects the Trumbull Board of Elections to certify the winner later this month.

Seiple said the issue’s defeat cost the school district $11 million in interest-free bonds for construction, well above the $3.2 million that originally had been granted by the state.

“Of the 38 districts in Ohio that qualified for a share of $100 million [in interest-free bonds], only eight passed their issues, so those that did will get much bigger shares,” Seiple said. “Had we been the ninth district, we could have gotten $11 million instead of $3.2 [million] from the pool of funds.

“It was a good opportunity, but the vote didn’t warrant it.”

Had the issue passed, the interest-free bonds would have had to be paid in 14 years and the balance in 37 years at an interest rate that at the time of the board’s resolution was estimated at 5.25 percent.

The superintendent expressed doubt about the availability of federal stimulus funds that provided the interest-free financing for Mathews should the new board ask voters to reconsider.

“There was $100 million in the pool, and that pool will be gone,” Seiple said.

The superintendent said he was surprised at the margin of the defeat, a difference of 528 votes.

“I expected it to be the opposite, so yes, we are disappointed,” Seiple said.

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