The Buckeye Valley Board of Education took the first step this week toward a third attempt to address the district’s aging elementary school facilities.
The board voted unanimously to send to the state the documentation necessary to place a bond issue not to exceed $32 million on the November ballot to pay for the construction of two new elementary facilities.
If approved, the bond issue would pay for the construction of two new elementary buildings — one in Ashley and another at a to-be-determined location on the west side of the district — the purchase of land and the demolition of the three existing elementary facilities in Ashley, Ostrander and Radnor. The latter school closed in 2012 due to budget constraints.
Under the plan, fifth-grade students, who currently attend the middle school, would once again be back in an elementary setting, as they were before the closure of North Elementary in 2012.
The plan was crafted over several months and meetings, with the input from dozens of community members.
“We feel that the time is right,” said Tom Kaelber, the board’s president. “The momentum is now. We’ve got a large number of citizens who have worked on this facilities committee. We feel that once the campaign gets started, that those folks will be the guiding group for the campaign.”
At recent community forums, district residents also considered a $36.3 million plan to construct a new high school and move elementary students to the current middle school and a $29.3 million plan to build two new elementary buildings in Ashley and Ostrander.
Kaelber said addressing the district’s aging elementary facilities is the top priority for the school system.
“It’s been the most important thing ever since I’ve been on the school board,” said Kaelber, who is serving his 12th year on the board. “We have wonderful facilities for our middle schoolers and our high schoolers.”
The district’s newest elementary school was built in 1947, although additions have been made to each since that time. Maintenance and repair costs are starting to accumulate in the aging buildings that lack the infrastructure to handle all of today’s modern technology and air-conditioning.
District voters, however, have resoundingly rejected two consecutive bond issue proposals, one of which would have paid for the construction of a single facility on Coover Road and another that would have covered the cost to renovate the buildings in Ashley, Ostrander and Radnor.