LEES CREEK — East Clinton has a bond issue on the fall ballot to fund construction of a new middle school, and to upgrade the high school and the elementaries in Sabina and New Vienna.
The total millage of the ballot issue is 6.2 mills — which combines 5.7 mills for the bond and 0.5 mill to pay the cost to maintain the classroom facilities in the project.
The project consists of three main aspects, said East Clinton Superintendent Eric Magee. Those are: 1) constructing a new middle school, 2) constructing state-of-the-art high school science rooms, a Family and Consumer Sciences classroom, and a high school band room, and 3) renovating the two elementary buildings and the high school.
“At this point in time, the state of Ohio is giving $11,500,000 to assist East Clinton to complete this project,” Magee said.
With the state assistance, the local school district is required to provide a local percentage of the funding. If local funding is not secured within the next several months, those state dollars will go away, said the superintendent.
The ballot issue would cost an owner of a $100,000 residential property about $216 annually (in other words, $18 monthly). Duration of the bond is set at 28 years.
The bond issue that built the high school and two elementaries recently was paid in full. Those taxes were removed from East Clinton school district taxpayers in January 2018.
The original portion of the middle school was built in 1905. Classroom spaces in a new middle school would be equipped with technology that enables the most effective learning environment possible, Magee has said.
The renovations as well as the new construction will include complete safety and security upgrades to the facilities, he said, “providing much more secure facilities district-wide.”
He added that design techniques and technologies have come a long way since the three newer buildings, nearing 25 years old, were constructed.
Ohio’s Facilities Construction Commission determines which schools get the state funds for construction assistance. When they do so, they analyze the cost of renovating as compared to replacing and have determined that East Clinton’s existing middle school is eligible only for replacement, according to the website www.voteforeastclinton.com .
New construction usually means lower operating costs. The state of Ohio typically sees fully climate-controlled new buildings operate at 75 percent the cost of a dated building with only heat.
Magee related that one community member put it this way: “The cost of voting ‘no’ is not free.”
The superintendent elaborated that if the bond issue does not pass, “We would lose the $11.5 million from the state and we would then be tasked with the continued maintenance of a 113-year-old building to bring it up to requirements and to provide the security advances on our own.”
He added, “At that point, we are paying 100 percent of the cost rather than using the state’s 53 percent share of the base project.”
The security improvements include secure entryways, updated camera surveillance systems, one-pull lockdown systems and automatic-locking doors, states the website.
The three school buildings to be renovated will have new roofing installed, as well as new HVAC (heating, venting, and air conditioning) systems and kitchen equipment, “all of which will need to be replaced over the coming years,” Magee has said.
The high school would get about four new classrooms because the construction project would remove the corridor that joins the middle and high schools, and several high school classes are held in the corridor.
If the bond issue passes, the hope is to have the new middle school ready for students in August 2021.
District Treasurer John Stanley said the ballot language will be confusing in one respect, and voters should know that the district’s elementary buildings would remain preschool through fifth grade, and that the middle and high schools at the Lees Creek campus would remain grades 6 through 12.
For more information about the project, please visit www.voteforeastclinton.com or see the ballot issue committee’s Facebook page, Vote For East Clinton.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.