• 86°

South Point seeks March levy run

SOUTH POINT – Voters will get another chance to decide whether or not new schools are in their future.

Saturday, November 20, 1999

SOUTH POINT – Voters will get another chance to decide whether or not new schools are in their future.

South Point Board of Education members voted 5-0 to support the school bond levy in the March primary election, Superintendent Rick Waggoner said.

"The key is that the board of education feels this is such a great deal for the students of today, and the students and the community for the next 50 to 60 years, that we want to try to work on it and continue to inform the public," Waggoner said. "We felt we ran out of time last time and now we have enough time to talk to more people."

The issue, which appeared on the Nov. 2 ballot, failed by 300 votes, Waggoner said.

If it had been approved, area property owners would have paid an additional 4.84 mills on their taxes to provide about $7.1 million in local funding to match an approximate $23.4 million in state building assistance monies, Waggoner said.

The funds would have been used to build a new high school and consolidated elementary school, as well as to convert the current high school into an middle school.

"I’m very optimistic that the levy will pass in March," Waggoner said. "I think the people in South Point care enough about the students and community that they will not let this much money get lost."

And board of education members plan to do as much as possible to inform the voting public about the facts before they cast their votes again, said Glen Seagraves, board president.

"The levy’s failure was because of a combination of things like the Burlington and (South Point) elementary schools," he said, adding that Burlington residents have had a local school for many years and the idea of no school hurt the vote.

"We would have liked to keep our two elementaries, but that’s not an option," he said. "We had to make a choice and we just have to better get across to the people that, although it’s not what we wanted, it’s the best deal we’re going to get."

With more than three months to campaign, Seagraves said board members hope to help the public understand that receiving 77 percent state funding for new schools is an opportunity the community cannot afford to give up.

"I hope we can do a good job of answering all the questions," Seagraves said. "We have more time to address those issues that caused us to lose the election."

One of the board members’ priorities will be to decide on a site for the new schools if the levy passes in March, Waggoner said.

A committee has been organized to look into possible school construction sites, and a recommendation will be given to the board at the December regular meeting, Waggoner said.

Committee members include John Singley, Bob Armstrong, David Hamm, Sissy Howard, Buel Collins, David Classing and Percy Foxwell.

"Those seven people are reviewing information about different sites," Waggoner said. "We want to pin the site down and make sure everyone knows where the school buildings will be if they vote yes to the levy."

Previously, board members had stated they would not make a decision regarding re-running the bond levy until after the one new board member and two incumbents Gary Morrison, Terry Blake and Bernard Belville take their seats on the board in January.

But time constraints did not allow board members that luxury, Seagraves said.

"We have a deadline we need to follow," Seagraves said. "We had to have everything taken care of before Dec. 23 if we wanted it on the primary election."

If board members would have waited, they would have had to have a special election, which might have cost the school district up to $10,000, Seagraves said.

If the issue fails in March, board members will have another decision to make. The Ohio School Facilities Commission allows board of educations to run levy elections three times before taking back the guarantee of state funding, Seagraves said.

"It is possible for it to go one more time after this," he said. "We have until August to pass the levy."

Chances are good that the levy will pass in March, however, Seagraves added.

"There was less than a 5 percent swing around at this election," he said. "If 5 percent of the people voted for it that voted against it, it would have passed. Plus, it was a bad day for the people to get out and vote."

If South Point district residents turn down this opportunity, school officials do not know how they will be able to maintain quality schools, Waggoner said.

"A lot of people feel that our school buildings are in good shape and we do not need new ones," Waggoner said. "However, when you look at the renovations that are needed at South Point Elementary, a total cost of $3,854,000, and at Burlington Elementary, a total cost of $2,867,000, and when you look at things such as roofs, heating and air conditioning, electrical, plumbing, windows, fire alarm systems, security systems, handicapped access, life safety codes, technology and asbestos, these areas all need renovated. And the state money coming in would solve this problem and in particular get our students out of buildings that are rapidly deteriorating.

"Even though the buildings may look good from the outside, there are many problems on the inside."