Preble Shawnee voters to decide on two levies for schools

Local News

CAMDEN, Ohio (WDTN) – Voters in the Preble Shawnee school district will see two levies on the March ballot.

One of the levies would provide funding to build a new elementary school, and the other would allow for renovations at the junior/senior high school, according to superintendent Matt Bishop.

Similar levies have been on the ballot and failed three times before, most recently as November 2017, Bishop said. But next month, after collecting feedback from the community, the property tax and income tax levies will appear as two separate issues on the ballot, he added.

“With a district our size, about 1,350 students, having three facilities is not a very efficient way to operate,” Bishop said.

In the Preble Shawnee school district, mechanical systems in all three buildings need to be replaced, Bishop said. Both elementary school buildings are outdated and do not provide enough space, he added.

One of the two levies is a 3.75-mill bond issue that would last 25 years, Bishop said. If it passes, both existing elementary schools would be demolished, and a new school for students in grades pre-K through 5 would be built in Camden, he added

It would cost taxpayers $131 annually per $100,000 in appraised property value, Bishop said. Taxpayers would contribute roughly $10 million total for the project over the 25-year period, he added.

“The big thing that the community said was they wanted to take advantage of the 66 percent state share,” Bishop said. “And so you’re getting a $22 million building for right around $10 million when you add in some of the locally-funded initiatives.”

The 0.75 percent income tax increase would last five years and allow the district to complete renovations at the junior/senior high school, Bishop said.

The first phase of renovations, which would include new boilers, lighting and air conditioning, would be covered by about $6 million in carryover funds, Bishop said.

The income tax increase would also allow for future phases of renovations, which would include new roofing, flooring and windows, he added.

As signs pop up across the district, voters are divided on the levies.

“For the citizens of West Elkton, the town that would lose a school, I feel for them, and I think as far as for their village, it’s important for them to have a school,” said Chandra Keesler, a PTO member who supports the levies. “But as far as for the students, it’s more important to have a functional building that meets their educational needs.”

“I’m retired and you’re on a fixed income, and it’s just too much money,” said Gene Moreland, who plans to vote against the levies. “They’ve got a good school. Like I always say, we went to [an] old school back in the day, and we didn’t have air or heat.”

If the property tax levy passes, construction on the new elementary school could start as soon as this fall and be finished around 2024, Bishop said. High school renovations could begin this summer if the income tax increase is approved, he added.

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