Voters in two Washington County school districts will be asked to vote on school issues when they go to the polls on Tuesday.
In the Warren Local Schools District, voters will consider a 5.4-mill bond issue in addition to a 0.5-mill permanent improvement levy. Together, the issues will raise $21 million, the local share of an estimated $53.6 million construction project to build three new elementary schools and a middle school. The cost to the owner of a $100,000 home is a little over $180 a year.
This is the fifth time the board will seek approval of a bond issue and as before, we think residents of the district should support it. Back in May, a bond issue that would have included the building of a high school as well as a middle school and elementaries lost by just eight votes. This time, the project has been scaled back. A new high school is off the table and as a result, the local share of the project is about $10 million less than what it would have been. The district has shown it's listened to concerns about how large the local share would be, and took steps to reduce that cost. While not everyone is convinced new buildings are needed, we think district officials have done a good job of weighing the pros and cons of building new or going ahead with existing facilities. We agree that in the long run, the new buildings would be the better investment for the future of Warren Local students.
We encourage voters to support the bond issue and permanent improvement levy on Election Day.
The other school district seeking voter approval is Frontier Local Schools. There, officials placed on the ballot a 0.75 percent income tax levy that would take 75 cents from every $100 earned. The district hopes to raise $435,000 a year. One-third of the revenue is to go toward permanent improvements, the rest would be used for day-to-day operations.
School officials are already considering the closing of Lawrence Elementary, and further declining revenue could eventually result in the consolidation of all district elementary grades.
School district enrollment has been dropping in recent years, as has outside funding. Approval of the tax issue would help make up some of that lost funding and give the district a chance to maintain, and even add programs, instead of continuing to cut.
We think approving the income tax will help solidify the district's financial footing and as such, we urge Frontier voters to approve the school issue on the ballot Tuesday.