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Austintown district loses assured $31M for new school

Published: Sat, May 10, 2014 @ 12:07 a.m.

Board misses deadline to put Fitch issue on August ballot

By Robert Connelly



Austintown schools missed the deadline to put its bond issue for a new high school on August’s special election, meaning state-awarded building funds are no longer guaranteed.

Austintown Board of Education president Kathy Mock said, “I would think there would be a conversation very soon on how we move forward.”

She added that it will have to be a group effort — and that the conversation will be on “if we should move forward ... there’s a lot of variables.”

Superintendent Vincent Colaluca said that the school district will continue to ask taxpayers for funding.

“I see the community as being taxed-out, but what they need to understand is that the state of Ohio isn’t going to continue to give us more money,” Colaluca said. “There is no other alternative for us. We can’t go out and get a loan.”

He also said renovation is off the table, and district officials are moving forward only talking about building a new Fitch.

The bond issue failed 4,311 votes to 2,239 votes on May 6, almost 2-to-1.

The 4.1-mill bond issue was set to raise $46 million over 37 years. It would have cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $144 a year.

The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission awarded Austintown $31 million, or 47 percent of the cost to rebuild, last August. The district had 13 months to act on the funding, but since it was not able to get the issue on this August’s special-election ballot, the funding is no longer guaranteed.

The bond committee and district hosted two town hall forums leading up to the election, and many residents questioned why the district needed to replace the 1960s-built Fitch High School. To that point, Colaluca said the buildings were previously built together years ago. “We just have to do them all at once,” Colaluca said.

The Austintown school district has replaced three buildings on a campus site between Idaho and Raccoon roads. An elementary building, an intermediate building and a middle school are on the campus with the old high school.

Since the district missed the deadline of May 7 to put the bond issue on the August ballot, the district has become a “lapsed district” — meaning funds are no longer guaranteed.

“They’ve [the OFCC] already given dollars to non-school entities from that fund. Are those dollars going to be there in the future? We don’t know that,” Colaluca said.

He also said the cost of the project can rise in coming years, citing labor and material costs rising at a rate of between 3 percent and 5 percent a year.

Mock said they will discuss as a group how to go forward and if they should put a bond issue on the November ballot. For that ballot, the district has to decide by Aug. 6, the day after the special election.


1youngstownsteve(84 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

Mock, Collaluca and the other idiots on the board need to realize that the people have spoken. By a two to one margin their proposal was rejected. I will never agree to a 37 year additional tax. They need to accept the will of the people. We have spoken very clearly. Learn to live within your means and ship the dolt Collaluca out of town.

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2MLC75(661 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

You have three new schools,that is enough already !

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32muchtax(897 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

Colaluca may of finally got a clue! People are taxed out! Not to mention the golden pensions that that he and all others get, you know 4 to 5 times more that the normal person paying for all this that will get SSI when there 67 or 70 not in thier 50s after teaching 30 yrs! Not to mention some of the even better pensions like Ohio state patrol that gets it after 20 years!

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4Gino(14 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

but they have $$$ to drug test everyone.

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5Gino(14 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

Maybe they should drug test the school board.

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6austcityres(1 comment)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

Did the school board ever think that if the tax payers weren't seeing articles on how they spend over $16,000.00 on a dispute between grown men, they might look at things differently. Can't imagine how they waste other tax payer dollars without us knowing.

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7valleyred(1103 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

I will continue to vote NO on these levies so long I am a resident of this township.

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8Metz10987(145 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

No means no! This issue should be dead, The voters clearly told them to renovate Fitch and give on building a new high school yet fixing Fitch is not even option that is on the table?!> The board mist be morons How do they expect to get the money, the sate will not give them the money, they can not take out a loan and the tax payers will never agree to give them $77 million if they are not willing to give them $31 Million. Only way they can get what they want is force us t give it to them to complete Vince's grand scheme. Time to vote all these idiots off the board since they clearly do not get it and think they can do whatever they want.

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9city_resident(528 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

"The voters clearly told them to renovate Fitch..." So, you believe the voters voted down spending $41 million for a new building, because they'd rather spend as much--or more--to renovate the existing building?

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