By MARK J. MILLER
WINTERSVILLE - Voters in the Indian Creek School District will have the opportunity to vote on a 3.5-mill bond issue on May 7 to help fund a new high school building and other district improvements.
The district encompasses 2,350 pupils and students in parts of Wintersville, Mingo Junction, Bloomingdale and Unionport.
The 3.5-mill bond issue would be for 37 years, with the Ohio School Facilities Commission paying $8 million, or 33 percent, of the tab for a new district building, while district voters would pay $23 million, or 67 percent, over the next 37 years. Of the local portion of funds, $18 million would be used for the high school, while $5 million would be used for improvements at other district structures, according to John Rocchi, superintendent.
"(The proposal) is 1.45 less mills than our last levy proposal," Rocchi said.
He noted the district closed Bantam Ridge School last year and now is using it as the district headquarters as well as leasing space in the building to other businesses to save funds.
"The school board already has voted to close Wayne Elementary School in Bloomingdale next school year," said Rocchi, adding the closing is an additional move to create savings. "All funds (generated through the bond proposal) would go toward facilities. None of the funds raised would go toward employee salaries."
Some of what would change if the bond measure passes would include upgraded and secure facilities; elimination of 12 portable classrooms, eliminating walking outside during inclement weather; technology upgrades; more online educational opportunities; additional educational gym space; efficient heating and air conditioning, resulting in utility cost savings; and better traffic control at the high school.
The new high school would be constructed on the same district-owned land as the present high school, Rocchi added.
The state won't pay for upgrades to existing infrastructure, and that's the reason why additional local funds are needed, said Rocchi.
Some of those upgrades would include renovations to the elementary buildings to decrease longterm maintenance costs; upgrades to parking lots and traffic patterns at the elementary school tied to student/pupil safety; upgrades to the new school the state won't pay for; and extensive renovations to Kettlewell Memorial Stadium, according to Rocchi.
The average cost to a district homeowner of a residence valued at $100,000 would be $8.93 monthly without a Homestead Exemption; and $6.70 a month for seniors with a Homestead Exemption, according to figures from district Treasurer Denise Todoroff.
Rocchi said his biggest concern for a new building is for the safety of students, staff and pupils.
"With all the security issues nowadays, it sits on my plate to make sure the staff and students are kept safe," he said. "Without a new high school we're leaving ourselves vulnerable."
For information on the issue, call (740) 264-3502.