Saturday, April 27, 2002

Talawanda bond issue seeks $53.9 million

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        OXFORD — Two buildings would be constructed in the Talawanda Schools as part of a long-range facilities plan if voters approve a $53.9 million bond issue on the May 7 ballot.

        The 7.78-mill bond issue would pay for a 161,000-square-foot high school and a 50,000-square-foot elementary school. Money also is earmarked to renovate Talawanda High School for use as a middle school, and to convert the middle school to an elementary school of 790 students that would be split into two smaller programs housed in the same building.

        Once the two buildings are constructed, Stewart and Kramer elementary schools would be closed. The bond issue also includes funds for remodeling and constructing a 5,183-square-foot addition to Maud Marshall Elementary School.

        “We have a need in each of the areas — elementary and high school — that this plan addresses,” said James Rowan, Talawanda treasurer.

        The plan has received the approval of the Ohio School Facilities Commission. The district would be eligible to receive 24 percent — or $13 million — of the project's cost from the state sometime between 2009 and 2011, Mr. Rowan said.

        But not everyone in this 3,200-pupil western Butler County district agrees with the plan. Some question whether the state will have the money to fund it. Others believe the board should have put a smaller bond issue on the ballot now and another one closer to when the district is scheduled to get the state money.

        “I think it (plan) goes further than it needs to go. I don't think we need a new high school at this time,” said Oxford resident John Trump.

        Former board member William Vollmer said he would not work against the bond issue, but he doesn't support it.

        “It's too big a package for the people out here,” said Mr. Vollmer, who lives in Reily Township.

        Approval would boost taxes on a $100,000 home by about $238 annually, Mr. Rowan said.

        The board has taken an option to purchase up to 115 acres of the Erik farm on Millville-Oxford Road for the high school. It is also looking in Milford Township for an elementary school site.


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