I have recently discussed the United Local bond issue with several people who are "on the fence" with regard to a voting "For" the bond issue on Nov. 8. The most common objection to the bond is along the lines of: "Hey, my house is 80 years old. Sure I'd love to rebuild it but (either) it isn't practical or I can't afford it. My house is fine the way it is. If I did anything, it would be cheaper to remodel." Personally, I agree with these people.
However, no matter how we slice it, United Local School is not an old farmhouse. It has seen over 65,000 students since it was built in 1951. In other words, it has had a lot more use than our older houses. Further, on behalf of many in my community - and since I volunteered to participate on the Financial Task Force Committee (which was a 20-30 person group that intensely questioned the board of ed at United, the OSFC, the architectural firm and a finance person involved) - I was given an opportunity to interrogate those who have done the research into this proposed project. I (shockingly) discovered that it will actually cost more to remodel the school than to rebuild the older sections. And it will disrupt classes in progress.
Another common objection is "the levy will last 37 years." I discovered that this number was chosen to make the bond more affordable (it could have been for less time, but the payments would have been more). If you check with the county auditor, that means if you have a house appraised at $100,000, you'll pay approximately $120 per year more in taxes than you pay now (only $10/month).
But what is really disturbing was to learn that all the tax money we've paid to Ohio so far has been used toward building over 300 schools in other parts of the state. Now is our chance to keep some of that money here instead of sending it away. We have to pay the taxes anyway, so why not get some back for our own district?
Look. If our community was "dying," I'd say "no way." But the fact is that our community is growing due to the Marcellus and Utica shale development a mile beneath our district. And our school is deteriorating. Ten years ago we were given the chance to use OSFC money at only an 11 percent share from us. Since then, construction costs have increased 43 percent and our share has gone up to 21 percent. What we know for sure is that our school will continue to age. We know construction costs and our local share will continue to rise.
The most practical decision is to vote "For" the bond issue this time. Please; family, friends and neighbors vote "For" the United Local School's bond issue on Nov. 8.