'Building Better Dreams' on ballot

Sandusky school board unanimously votes to move bond issue to November ballot
Alissa Widman Neese
Jul 29, 2014

 

widman@sanduskyregister.com

Once every few generations, a community makes a substantial statement.

Sandusky school board member Jeff Krabill, as well as other Sandusky Schools officials, honed their message to voters Monday.

Now is their chance.

At a special meeting, all five board members agreed to officially place a bond issue to fund two new school buildings on the Nov. 4 ballot.

If approved, the proposed measure, called "Building Better Dreams," would finance the largest construction project in the district's history.

"This is a big step for our schools, for our community and for our taxpayers," Krabill said. "It's a statement about who we are, and what we value — and it's not an easy thing to do."

The specifics

If approved, "Building Better Dreams" would:

• Demolish Hancock Elementary School and build a facility for preschool through third grade behind its current site.

• Demolish Ontario Elementary School and build a facility for grades four through six behind its current site.

• Renovate science laboratories at Sandusky High School.

• Repurpose Mills Elementary School as an adult education building and Venice Heights Elementary School as the new Regional Center for Advanced Academic Studies, a school for gifted students.

• Retain Osborne Elementary School for transitional space or community use.

• Retain all of the old Jackson Junior High School building for transitional space and community use.

The old Adams Junior High School building would continue to house Sandusky Digital Academy, the district's new online school, and would not change.

The finances

The entire Sandusky Schools construction project would cost nearly $58 million.

The Ohio School Facilities Commission, a state organization, would oversee the project and fund a significant portion of it.

State-approved aspects of the project total about $51 million. The commission will provide about 54 percent of that amount, or $28 million, while taxpayers must fund the remaining 46 percent, or $23 million, district treasurer Kevin Robertson said.

The extra $7 million in projects — renovations to Sandusky High School, preschool classrooms and other items the commission does not fund — also require local financing.

Therefore, in total, taxpayers will be asked to provide about $30 million in the form of a 3.98-mill, 34-year bond issue, which the Erie County auditor officially certified Friday for the Nov. 4 ballot.

After the auditor's calculations, it has been determined the bond issue would cost the annual owner of a $100,000 home about $139 in additional taxes each year.

"This is our time to do it," school board president Tom Patterson said. "The state would pay for half the project, and the community can't afford to rebuild the schools any other way."

The changes

Until this past week, the "Building Better Dreams" project proposed constructing two elementary school buildings adjacent to Sandusky High School, on the old Memorial Hospital site on Hayes Avenue.

As part of the original plan, Sandusky Schools would have demolished Hancock, Ontario and Osborne elementary schools and would not replace them.

A portion of the old Jackson Junior High School building, now the Regional Center for Advanced Academic Studies, was also slated for demolition.

But after vetting feedback from community members, officials and board members agreed embedding the new schools in the community was a better option, they unexpectedly announced Friday.

Additionally, they'll spare all other buildings from demolition.

The district currently houses traditional elementary school students in schools throughout the city, and would still condense them all into the two new buildings, according to this revised proposal.

"Now these areas will remain a school area," said David Danhoff, the district's chief of staff and transformation officer. "I wouldn't say they're neighborhood schools. They're schools in a neighborhood."

Adjusting the two buildings' locations will not impact the overall cost of the project, as the buildings' designs and sizes will not change, Robertson said.

The questions

Board members fielded questions from a handful community members Monday regarding the "Building Better Dreams" project.

Eugene Sanders, the district's superintendent and typical spokesman, is on vacation this week and did not attend Monday's meeting to answer questions.

Here are responses the board members, as well as Danhoff, provided:

Q: What would happen to students at Hancock and Ontario elementary schools while construction and demolition is taking place?

A: Construction would take place behind the existing buildings, allowing students to continue using current facilities before they are demolished for green space, access roads or parking lots. Construction areas would be fenced off from students.

Q: Why did you decide to move the buildings from the old Memorial Hospital site?

A: Community feedback indicated a majority of voters preferred to keep the school buildings in those neighborhoods. Additionally, some residents expressed concerns about declining property taxes if the schools were to be removed.

Q: Now what would happen to the area next to Sandusky High School?

A: It's possible the areas would be used for athletic fields, such as a softball diamond, in the future. There would also be room for other construction, if necessary, and the district is open to suggestions from community members.

Q: Isn't illegal to fund a construction project using property taxes, according to the 1997 case DeRolph v. State of Ohio?

A: Not at this time. Although the Supreme Court of Ohio case did rule the state's method for funding public education was unconstitutional, it directed the state to find a remedy to the problem and never fully solved it.

Q: How would 'Building Better Dreams' impact preschool education in the local area?

A: The Ohio School Facilities Commission only funds preschool facilities for students with special needs. Even so, Sandusky Schools has included preschool classrooms in its building plan, using entirely local funds, because the district felt it was important to make those students part of the new building.

The district plans to host several meetings throughout the school year to discuss the plan with community members and field more questions, board members said.

 

Sandusky Schools bond issue

• If approved, this bond issue would generate $30 million for a building project costing $58 million total, in a timeframe of 34 years. The proposal would construct two new elementary school buildings, demolish two existing buildings and renovate science labs at Sandusky High School.

• 3.98-mill, 34-year bond issue.

• Would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $139 in additional taxes per year.

• Construction would begin next summer.

Comments

sugar

What's the % of students who graduate from SHS? What's the % that actually go on to higher education? Graduate from college or tech programs? Are gainfully employed tax paying citizens? How many of these gainfully employed students remain in the Sandusky community? WHAT IS THAT PERCENTAGE?
Where are Krabills children ? Are they here paying taxes?
New buildings and fancy labs do not produce productive adults. Look at SCCS, 1880's building, no millions in tax monies yet actually turn out productive citizens.
So if I break my taxes down with the increase that's almost 200 a month. Way too much to pay for students who's parents pay nothing, who are subsidized by my taxes for housing, medical care, food, heat, electric, etc. TAXED ENOUGH ALREADY. ANOTHER VOTE NO!

bnjjad

"How many of these gainfully employed students remain in the Sandusky community?" - What does this have to do with whether you support your local schools? if 50% of them move away and are gainfully employed you would not support it because they are not doing anything for your economy? I do not follow that comment.

As for the other statistics:

85.7% - 4 Year Graduation Rate

2012 statistics (latest available) -

80 First Time College Students entering
85% of entering Students enrolling in Public University or University Regional Campus
15% of entering students enrolling in Community College
56% of entering students take developmental Math or English in College
24% of entering students take developmental Math AND English in College

Sandusky needs some help getting that 80 students up.

Edit: 2010 has 66 Entering College and 216 Graduates. - Still had almost matching high percentages of students taking developmental Math and/or English to bring them up to speed. 2012 Total graduates number was unavailable.

sugar

None of the above proposals at MILLIONs of dollars addresses any of those stats. New buildings and fancy labs do not educate . If schools actually educated and stopped indoctrinating students they would have better outcomes.
Hey Mr. Krabill if someone buys one it your overpriced condos downtown they get a tax abatement? Right? Do you or have you had a tax abatement?

local man

sugar - you can't do your math right unless you are living in a 2.5 million dollar home.

sugar

So your telling me what my taxes are? No that's priceless.

Nor'easter

We need to rebuild streets first so we can get to the schools. Buildings do not educate students, teachers do. Vote yes for .25% city income tax and NO for School bond issue.

bnjjad

No sense in having streets if nobody is driving to work because they have no job because they are uneducated.

Separate issues that both need to be addressed.

totallyamazed

.
Sad to see the enrollment of our school system slip to a level in which only two elementary schools are needed.
.

p.s: I think the system has been "going to the well" often lately. Whether for a renewal or new levy. Personally, I think they've been lucky to have the issues pass. My $0.02 worth
.

YoMamma

Hey totally...the entire SCS student population can fit into the High School.

totallyamazed

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Really sad.
.

Nor'easter

Take this off the ballot and save the lost revenue.

CommonsenseNow

All sorts of new taxes for Sandusky homeowners and those who work in the city. Yay.

MrSandusky

I hate to say it, but there is absolutely no chance of this passing...

But then again, the more I think about it...how many people in Sandusky are renters and do not see property tax increases first hand, and how many of those people vote... It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Kind of funny how Cedar Point and other "Corporate Citizens" will pay for a football field, how many books, computers and other learning aids could have been purchased with that money?

streak

I don't think it will pass but I do not buy the argument of renters because most of the renters in sandusky are not registered voters. I think tons of pride still exist especially with the older generations who want sandusky to be what it once was. I think it has a decent shot of passing and enrollment will increase if it does, it has already started to gradually climb.

gene44870

Hey Sandusky . Question . Did you not see
Perkins get voted down .not once not twice but four times . I guess you people think property taxes arent high enough in the Sandusky area .
I will tell you the same thing that I told Perkins . Stay out of my pocket .
If you want to help the children of Sandusky . Get more better paying jobs so the parents can better be able to teach these kids the value of a dollar . The Sandusky and Perkins school. Dont need new schools . They need new teachers . Lord only knows that there are a kot of kids just being pushed through the two systems .
And to further state its insane to put a middle school right there . It already a nightmare tring to get to work if you work on Hayes ave
Not mention its not a good idea because of the fact that kids dont pay attention more kids are going to be at risk due to the heavy traffic that flows not only on Hayes but also Perkins Ave .
I know living in that area it was a nightmare turning onto Hayes from Anyone one street along that stretch from Perkins to Osborn street
All I can say is vote no on this .If for no other reason . To keep your children safe. Lord only knows the school systems dont care
Its insane to take a school from a safe area and place it on a highly traveled state highway .Belevue tried that and it cost a child his life .He got hit by a semi on state rt 20
So please vote no for the sake of the children

streak

Reply to gene, if you are going to make comments, please get your facts straight. The possibility of building new schools will NOT be next to high school. They are planning to stay at the current spots of elementary schools. The simple fact that you said vote no to keep children safe shows me the level of education you have, which can't be much.

SamAdams

THAT'S ENOUGH!!! I don't care if you want more money. I don't care if you want new buildings. I don't care if you think throwing more money at the schools will actually improve the education most students get. The bottom line: EVERYbody wants something, and if they're government, they're forcing the rest of us quite literally at gunpoint to pay for it.

Where do WE go if WE need more money? More to the point, where do we go when we DON'T HAVE ANY MORE MONEY? Taxes are already at or past the breaking point for those on fixed incomes. And the economy still isn't rebounding (whatever the White House tries to tell you), making more than just retired folks be on "fixed" incomes!

One place we can go: The ballot box. I understand Sandusky residents have historically been supportive of school levies, but if this doesn't stop NOW, it'll drive still more people away. Sandusky is fast on the way to seeing most of the City proper become a "bad neighborhood." Eliminating more of the tax base isn't going to help.

sugar

Well put! Looks like Sandusky has it's version of Gunner! It's Sanders, the fat black guy who is trying to pad his resume. Hey Sanders! What's your income 150k? Maybe you can afford it. Hey Krabill! Did you get that tax abatement from your condos?

MrGadfly

New building will not solve the problem with education in Sandusky. Parental involvement is the only answer.

You can build the best building in the world but if there is no support at home the money spent on buildings is a waste.

Don't waste my money. My vote is a "no".