NORTH CANTON — School district officials got their marching orders from residents Wednesday night: Pursue a building plan that replaces the elementary and middle schools while only renovates the high school.
Nearly 90 people attended Wednesday’s community meeting to tell North Canton City School District officials whether they believe the district should move forward with a facilities improvement plan, and if so, when the district should pursue the property tax levy that would pay for the upgrades.
Superintendent Jeff Wendorf said the district next will convene a facility design team to begin filling in the details of the building plan. The team would answer questions such as: How should the elementary buildings be configured and where should they be located? What size of a levy should the district pursue?
As part of his roughly hourlong presentation, Wendorf pointed out the need for the building improvements. He revisited the facility assessment that was conducted by the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission in 2017 when the district unsuccessfully sought a 3.99-mill bond issue and 0.75 percent continuing earned income tax to renovate and replace its buildings. The assessment shows that it would be more cost effective to replace the district’s early childhood center and its elementary, intermediate and middle school buildings and to renovate Hoover High School.
Wendorf said the assessment will be updated to today’s construction cost estimates but expects the conclusion — to replace, not renovate, the six buildings — would be the same.
“Knowing that this (assessment) is two years old and our buildings are two years older than this, we know that we need to do something,” said Wendorf, who said the state would credit the district for any building improvements made since 2017.
Based on the state’s 2017 estimates, the cost to build new two elementary schools, construct a new middle school and renovate the high school would be $118 million. If the district partners with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, the district’s cost would be roughly $75.45 million, which means it would need to seek a roughly 5.4-mill levy.
District Treasurer Todd Tolson said the owner of a $100,000 home in North Canton pays $35 for every 1 mill. He also noted the district’s current 2-mill bond issue will expire Dec. 31.
Using the Kahoot multiple-choice question app, Wendorf polled the audience on which building program it should address in the near future.
Of the 84 votes, 61 people said they want the district to build new elementary and middle school buildings and renovate the high school. Eighteen want the district to build only two new elementary buildings, while three want only the new middle school built and the high school renovated. Two people said the district should wait and address the buildings in the future.
In a separate vote, 66 of the 84 responses said the district should seek a levy on the ballot in March 2020.
Jasmine Shadburn voted for the option to build new elementary and middle school buildings and renovate the high school because she wants the aging middle school to be replaced in time for her second-grade son, Gianni, to use it. She also said she would support a reasonable property tax levy.
“It would be OK, just to know our son would be in the best facility,” said Shadburn, whose family moved to the district from Wayne County in December.
Kim and Kellie Bond said they also voted for the option to build new elementary and middle school buildings and renovate the high school even though their teenage daughters wouldn’t get to use the improved facilities.
“It’s possible our kids could stay in the district and raise our grandkids in the same district, that’s why we wanted it,” said Kim Bond, who added that he would not support another raise in his property taxes.
Several residents suggested the school reconsider whether renovations to Hoover High School should be part of the building plan. They believe that including Hoover, which is the newest building in the district and has undergone recent upgrades, might turn off voters.
Reach Kelli at 330-580-8339 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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