By Jordan Cohen
The Mathews Board of Education will ask voters in the May 6 primary election to approve a $24.7 million bond issue to finance a kindergarten-through-12th-grade building that would replace the district’s aging three schools. The building’s total cost is projected at nearly $30 million.
It is the second time the board has sought voter approval for a new school. In 2009, a $22 million issue for a one-building school district was rejected by 59 percent of the voters.
“The need was great then, and it’s even greater now,” said Superintendent Lewis Lowery after the board’s unanimous vote Wednesday.
The building housing the high school and junior high will be 100 years old next year. The two elementary schools, Baker and Currie, were constructed in the 1960s. Plans call for demolition of all three buildings.
Lowery, who was not superintendent in 2009, said the local share has increased because the Ohio School Facilities Commission has been cutting the state contribution for the last few years. The OSFC share for the Mathews project is $5.6 million.
“The state share is less now and construction costs are still going up,” the superintendent said.
Lowery said the county auditor will determine the amount of the property tax millage to finance the issue this month. While the superintendent would not speculate on the figure, the millage is expected to exceed the 8.1 mills that would have financed the 2009 project.
The board has scheduled a special meeting for Jan. 29 to act on the final reading of the resolution, which will contain the millage amount.
According to Lowery, state law also requires the board to enact an additional 0.5 mills to finance such costs as renovation, acquisition and permanent improvements. Lowery said some of the costs include construction of a new roadway and purchase of a baseball field by the site. The board resolution estimates the costs, referred to as “locally funded initiatives,” at nearly $749,000. The figure is included in the local share.
Ken Wallace, a board member in 2009 and now board president, said he believes the district has a much better opportunity to pass the bond issue than it did five years ago. He noted district voters approved an additional operating levy and a renewal last year.
“We’ve got the team in place that helped pass those levies [and they] represent a good cross-section of the district,” Wallace said.
Last fall, the board hired Architectural Vision Group of Westlake as lead architects for the project.