Big Walnut board to seek $133.9M bond issue


By Lenny C. Lepola - For The Gazette



Members of the Big Walnut school board have taken another step toward placing a bond issue on the November ballot.

Board members on June 16 approved a resolution declaring the necessity to place a bond issue on the ballot not to exceed $133,900,000.

The resolution’s stated purpose for the proposed bond issue is “… to finance the construction and acquisition of certain improvements to the school district’s facilities.”

“This is the result of working work through potential plans with our building committee to take care of our facilities needs for the next decade,” said Superintendent Angie Pollock.

Members of the district’s facilities committee and Triad Architects used the district’s 2015 enrollment study — with “low,” “most likely” and “high-end” student population growth projections — and determined that all district buildings would be at capacity by 2019.

The committee came up with three options to meet that growth: 1) adapt to growth by using mobile (modular) classrooms, 2) renovate and expand the district’s existing school buildings, or 3) build a new high school with a capacity of 1,850 students and one new elementary school.

Committee members determined that modular classrooms were not an economically viable alternative, and that renovation and expansions of existing buildings would also be more costly than the recommended third option.

The committee’s final recommendation to the board, presented during a series of community forums, was to build a new high school on a new site that’s centrally located where traffic would work, move the middle school students to the high school, move the intermediate students to the middle school, and turn the intermediate school into an elementary school and consolidate in-town preschool at that facility.

During the community forums, facilities committee member Bob Keuderle said a $135 million bond issue on November’s ballot would cost district homeowners 8 to 9 mills.

“A lot of people like Big Walnut because it’s affordable,” Keuderle said during the April board meeting. “We have the second lowest millage in the county. The lowest is Buckeye Valley, the second lowest is Big Walnut. Adding 8 to 9 mills would still keep us the second lowest in the county, and more rooftops will bring those costs down as people move in. The community’s commercial development will bring that down even more.”

District Treasurer Terri Eyerman said the resolution approved last Thursday does not place the bond issue on the ballot; that it’s a statutory step towards that goal.

“I’ll take this to the Delaware County auditor tomorrow, and they will determine the bond issue’s millage,” Eyerman said. “Then we will submit this to the board to put on the ballot at the July board meeting.”

In other business, Pollock announced that the school district’s quality profile is now in draft form; and the district is preparing a quarterly newsletter that will be mailed to all residential addresses in the school district during the coming school year.

“The first ‘Eagle Examiner’ will be mailed out in August, then one in October with a link to the quality profile,” Pollock said. “Our plan is to send another one out in late January, and an end-of-the-year edition. We’re excited about both of these projects.”

Pollock said the newsletter would cost about $2,500 per edition – printing and postage included, or about $10,000 to print and post all four editions.

Pollock also noted that third-grade test scores revealed that 23 third-grade students did not meet the third-grade reading guarantee benchmark.

Pollock said those students would take the TerraNova Assessment either today or June 28.

“Any student who doesn’t meet the required score on the TerraNova test will be tutored for the rest of the summer,” Pollock said. “Most of the students who did not meet the third-grade reading guarantee are already on intervention.”

Director of student services Laura Lawrence said students who do not meet the standard on the TerraNova assessment would take the state assessment again at the end of the summer.

Assistant Superintendent Mark Cooper said work on the district’s new central office at 110 Tippett Court is proceeding, but is about one week behind schedule.

“The plumbing has been gone over,” Cooper said. “They’re working on ductwork and starting interior walls. It’s a tight timeline but we’re on track. Our goal is to move in on July 15 because we need all those rooms we’re vacating at the intermediate school.”

Cooper said the existing building renovation is only the first phase of the project. Phase two is a building addition that should be complete by October, and a third phase would add paving to increase parking.

Because Community Library’s service area is the Big Walnut Local School District, the school district is the library’s taxing authority.

Community Library Director Chauncey Montgomery was at last Thursday’s board meeting to ask board members to approve the library’s 2017 budget of $1.473 million.

“There’s not much change, only a 1 percent increase over this year’s budget,” Montgomery said. “Library visits are up quite a lot, program attendance is up, and e-books are now 20 percent of adult circulation.”

Board members approved Community Library’s 2017 budget.

Board members will hold a special work session at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, July 7, in the Big Walnut Intermediate School central office conference room.

By Lenny C. Lepola

For The Gazette

Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093. Email: [email protected]

Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093. Email: [email protected]

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