July 28, 2014

Elyria
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Avon Lake Schools considers delaying levies

AVON LAKE — The Avon Lake school board has decided how much money to ask from voters for expanded school buildings and a renovated football stadium, but the board may wait until the economy improves to place the issues on the ballot.

Superintendent Robert Scott said the board agreed at a special meeting Tuesday to ask for a $13 million bond for additions on the district’s four elementary schools and Learwood Middle School, as well as a $5.5 million bond to renovate the stadium and build a bus garage.

The county auditor’s office now has 10 days to calculate the millage required for both issues, Scott said. He estimates that if both issues passed, they would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $40 to $50 more a year.

“It’s not exact, and if it goes much higher than that, the board may look at it a little more critically,” he said.

The board may decide to postpone placing the issues on the ballot so as not to be an additional burden on taxpayers, who are already struggling because of the recession. Postponing a vote, however, is not ideal because of the great deals to be had from bidding out work to contractors right now as well as the pressing need for the construction to happen.

“We have no place to put kids,” Scott said, adding that the district has about 3,800 students, which is slightly more than what the state projected them to have at this point.

“We’re a growing district, and it’s going to continue. We’re projected to grow for the next 10 years.”

The board will likely decide whether to place the issues on the November ballot at its next meeting, Aug. 11.

How much federal stimulus money the district will receive may also make the board think twice about placing the bond issues on the ballot this year, Scott said.

However, if the issues do go before voters and are passed, the projects are expected to go out for bid in the spring.
“This is a timeliness issue,” Scott said. “At the very least, I’d like to take the issue to the public.”

The district has known for some time that it needed to expand and its suspicion was confirmed last year when a group made up of 27 parents, teachers and administrators said it needed to add classrooms to the elementary schools and Learwood Middle School to ease crowding.

In addition to the school buildings, a new bus garage is needed and the stadium, which Scott said has not been touched in the last 50 years, is in desperate need of some work, including bathrooms.

“If you ever go to a game, people are surprised that we have Port-o-Potties up,” he said. “It’ll be nice to have indoor plumbing.”

Contact Adam Wright at 329-7129 or awright@chroniclet.com.