BLANCHESTER — Voters in the Blanchester School District will be asked to renew a permanent improvement levy on the May 2 ballot.
The Blanchester Local Schools Board of Education approved a resolution to place an expiring permanent improvement levy on the ballot at a January meeting.
“The five-year levy was first approved by district voters in 1987, and has been supported by the community six times in its 30-year history. Not increasing taxes and keeping the Homestead Exemption tax break for our taxpayers was a factor in going with a renewal,” said Board President Keith Gibson.
All dollars received from the levy can be used only for capital outlay projects in the district, stated district officials. None of the estimated $110,000 that the levy will annually yield can be used for employee salaries or benefits, they added.
Some projects levy funds have been used for in the past were new roofs, repairs on driveways, parking lots and sidewalks, interior/exterior doors, security cameras and keycards, lawn mowers, buses, hot water heaters, athletic facilities, and classroom equipment such as desks, smart boards and computers, officials from the district said.
“One hundred and ten thousand dollars sounds like a lot of money and it is. However, the cost of one school bus exceeds $80,000 which doesn’t leave much money for other capital projects in the district,” said District Treasurer Darlene Kassner.
District Transportation Supervisor Barb Prater said, “Even with the purchase of three new buses the last couple of years, the average age of our fleet is approaching 15 years. The life expectancy of a school bus is about 10 years.”
Prater added, “The last few years we have seen an increase in mechanical and in body repairs because of rusting to our buses. A few days in December when we had that cold spell, nine of 27 of our buses — or 33 percent — were out of service.”
Superintendent of Blanchester Local Schools Dean D. Lynch said, “The last couple of years the Board of Education has made an effort to begin replacing some of our older buses. Our current fleet has one 26-year-old bus, two 21-year-old buses, and four 19-year-old buses. Passage of the renewal levy will help the board to continue to address this need in our Transportation Department.”