May 7, 2013
[caption id="attachment_19272" align="alignnone" width="495"] City school Superintendent Paul Craft congratulates campaign leaders, board members, staff and the community after a successful bond issue vote Tuesday. About 50 people joined Craft at the district’s administrative building to watch votes being tallied. (Gazette | Kate Liebers)
The Delaware City School district finally found its solution to overcrowding classrooms on Tuesday, as voters approved the 3.6-mill bond issue.
Expected to generate $50 million, the bond will allow the district to expand seven of the eight existing school buildings and the transportation building.
The two-mill increase will cost homeowners an additional $62 per $100,000 of property valuation for the next 37 years.
With only a 10.92 percent voter turnout, the issue passed with 60.64 percent “yes” votes, according to the Delaware County Board of Election’s complete but unofficial results.
“Even the most optimistic among us did not expect to see the number we’re seeing now,” superintendent Paul Craft said. “What a great result, and what a great community.”
The district had prepared for an uphill battle, considering the campaign fell on a non-presidential election. Generally, fewer voters participate in such elections and, those who do, are disproportionately fiscally conservative, Craft said.
A commissioned poll revealed that 60 percent of registered voters favored the bond, Craft said, but suggested the measure could still fail by 40 to 60 percent if left up to those who typically vote in non-presidential campaigns.
Craft said the campaign defied these predictions by carefully developing a plan to reflect the community’s interest.
This plan was the least expensive of 15 possible solutions, one of which entailed building a second high school from scratch. Doing so would have cost about $60 to $70 million, according to facilities director Larry Davis, compared to the $50 million price tag on the recently approved measure.
Craft also touted the plan as one that did not require a redistricting of building attendance boundaries, an attractive aspect for young families who considered the local school district when buying property.
This election was described as critical to the district’s continued success.
Board president Deb Rafeld said how the board would respond to a bond failure was not even discussed. The district may have had to buy additional temporary trailer classrooms, but Rafeld suggested that was not an efficient use of taxpayer money.
“We were crossing our fingers that we didn’t have to have a conservation like that,” Rafeld said.
The bond’s passage means the district can return to a traditional grade level configuration, eliminating the trailer classrooms used to address elementary schools’ student overflow.
The bond issue also will transform Willis Intermediate School into a primarily administrative building, with the capacity to serve alternative learning students and various community functions.
Parking, transportation, and security improvements are also expected to follow the bond’s approval.
The three-year construction plan is expected to begin the spring of 2014, Davis said.
Schultz Elementary, Dempsey Middle, and Hayes High schools will be the first priority, followed by Carlisle and Woodward elementary schools, Davis said. A definite construction time line has yet to be determined, he said.
The bond’s passage marks the first the district has experienced since 1998. Of the eight bond issues the district requested since 1990, voters approved only three.
Craft thanked the community as a whole, as about 50 people gathered at the district’s administrative building to watch the campaign results. He applauded Delaware’s support for programs serving the elderly and disabled (issues that were also on the May 7 ballot), as well as local businesses and organizations such as the YMCA.
“It’s exciting to be a part of that,” Craft said. “It’s a ying and a yang, a community is only as good as its schools and schools are only as good as their community.”