Eastwood rejects new school issue

PEMBERVILLE – Even with the best price they’ll likely ever get, Eastwood voters just couldn’t get behind
the idea of paying for a new elementary in their district.
Eastwood’s request for support for the new school was turned back by voters Tuesday, with 2,154 against
the 2.64-mill bond issue (59.13 percent) and 1,489 in favor (40.87 percent).
Superintendent Brent Welker said this morning that the idea for a new school will be shelved for the
foreseeable future.
"I think this was certainly a pretty good deal, if you felt like building an elementary school on a
central campus was a good idea," he said.
Voters, however, either weren’t ready to close their community schools in favor of a central campus, or
just weren’t prepared to support more taxes in the current depressed economy.
"We’re not going to see a better deal from the facilities commission. I think it’s pretty obvious
our voters either a) don’t want new taxes or b) aren’t interested in a new elementary, or both,"
Welker stated. "Obviously they said ‘no’ and it’s time for us to move on."
Tuesday’s loss means the approximately $8.5 million held for Eastwood by the Ohio School Facilities
Commission will go back into the pot and another district will have its shot at it during the next
funding cycle.
Will Eastwood be a part of that? Probably not, according to Welker.
Any future project with the commission will cost the district significantly more than the 53-percent
local share it had under the current deal, he explained. Also, even if Eastwood had another chance in
three to five years, the cost to local taxpayers would be at least double what was proposed Tuesday.
Tuesday’s loss also means the district is out an estimated $2.4 million in low-interest Qualified School
Construction Bonds that would have helped fund the new school. Those funds, too, were a one-shot
opportunity; failure of the bond issue sends the federal funds back into a pool to be redistributed to
other school districts whose construction projects were approved by voters.
This was Eastwood’s second request of residents for a new school; a 5.8-mill bond issue for a new K-8
building was defeated a year ago, and in the spring, the school board pulled from the ballot a 3.2-mill
tax issue for a new K-5 building.
Also on Tuesday, the district’s 2-mill permanent improvement renewal did pass, with the unofficial tally
showing 1,920 in favor (51.99 percent) and 1,773 opposed (48.01 percent).
Welker said he was grateful the PI levy was renewed, helping maintain the status quo of the district.
"We’ve got what we need right now to continue operating as is, and we’re grateful for that," he
That tax will continue to collect about $265,000 annually for maintenance and upgrades to facilities.
The levy "allows us to operate as we’ve operated. That’s OK," Welker said.