OAKWOOD, Ohio (WDTN) – The Oakwood Board of Education is moving forward with a plan to raise several million dollars for building maintenance and improvements. If approved, the issue will be placed on the May ballot, where voters will decide on the increases.
School board president Todd Duwel says this funding proposal is not the board’s first choice, but he says it’s their best option right now. He says districts across the state of Ohio are not getting what they need from Columbus, so they must turn to taxpayers for help.
Duwel says, “We willingly take on this challenge because the community wishes for us to preserve and maintain our hundred-year old buildings. So to do that we need dollars to keep them in good repair and maintenance.”
Oakwood voters could decide on a key school funding plan this coming May if the board gets the issue on the ballot.
Duwel adds, “We’ve had wonderful community support, have had the backing of the community for the better part of the last 20-25 years. So we’re fortunate to have our community support.”
Duwel says there will be 2 parts to the request, and stresses each is critical and equally important. The first part is a 4.99-mill operating levy to cover day-to-day expenses. The second part is a 2.7-mill bond, expected to raise $18-million for infrastructure improvements.
Duwel says the lack of funding from the capital poses problems when districts try to make long-term plans: “[It’s] incredibly difficult. We’ve been operating under an unconstitutionally funded school mandate for the better part of 25 years, so it makes every public-school district’s job inherently difficult.”
And so the Oakwood board is forging forward, confident they’ll get support. Duwel says, “We’re optimistic, sure. We’ve had a nice discussion with our community for the better part of the past 2 years. I think the community understands why we’re doing this. And we think we understand what they anticipate.”
Todd Duwel acknowledged the sometimes-high cost of maintaining old buildings, but pointed to the even greater cost of tearing them down and building new.
The next step in the process will take place on January 14th when the board will meet again to take a second vote on the funding request issue.