Several Buckeye Valley residents said Wednesday they would be willing to pay more in taxes to preserve community-based elementary schools in the district.
Citing more parental involvement, the hardships created for parents and children on long bus rides because of the closure of North Elementary and the effect on small communities that school closings can have, several community members said that they would vote in favor of a tax measure to ensure that community-based elementary schools remain in the district during a cafe-style meeting in Ostrander.
“The closing of an elementary school means you get no money,” Scioto Township Trustee Tom Brown said.
Thirty-eight residents attended the meeting, and many expressed the same sentiment.
The district had sought to build a single, centralized elementary school. However, an August special election featuring a bond issue to pay for the construction of the building and the demolition of three elementary buildings failed to gain majority support.
“I just don’t believe there is enough data to support a centralized elementary school,” Radnor resident Dave Kessler said.
While many said that they were willing to open up their wallets to preserve community-based elementary schools in the district, others said that they would also be willing to donate their time and expertise to tasks such as getting a bond measure passed or retrofitting the buildings.
Another common theme among many meeting attendees was the need for the district to be more unified.
Kessler said that the district is inevitably changing, but it must do so in a way that rallies residents around it.
“It’s got to be change that people will support,” he said.
“I think we need to come together as a community and speak with one voice,” Doris Huffman said.
Others, including Huffman, expressed frustration with the school board and administration.
“I still believe strongly that you shouldn’t pick a school board member because he is a friend and neighbor,” she said, adding that three board members are up for re-election next year.
Deb Bowden, who organized the event, said that the goal was to “create a two-way conversation” over what has turned out to be a very contentious issue in the district.
“I think it’s important that we come together as a community and a school district,” she said. “We’re not going to get anything accomplished by fighting.”