August 23, 2014

Elyria
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Avon voters turn down new middle school

AVON — The Avon Schools secured a renewal of a combined operating levy but lost a bond issue in an even narrower defeat than that in November.

The 3.21-mill, 10-year emergency operating levy was renewed by a fairly comfortable margin, according to unofficial returns which showed the issue passing by a vote of 3,328 to 2,478, or 57 percent to 43 percent.

The 2.25-mill, 32-year bond issue that would have produced $32 million to build a new middle school for grades six to eight to ease crowding in the district was rejected by 146 votes, or 2,964 against to 2,818 in favor — 51 percent to 49 percent.

“We lost by 177 votes in November and felt we were very close then, so we said let’s put it right back on,” Superintendent Jim Reitenbach said. “We narrowed the gap.”

Exactly what the district will do now remains to be seen, but the issue of crowded schools isn’t going away, Reitenbach said.

“We continue to grow in the number of students we have,” he said. “We are very overcrowded at the middle school and at Heritage North and South (elementary schools). We saw this as a three-pronged solution to our problems.”

Besides easing crowding at the current middle school built in the 1950s, the new 1,200-student school planned for Long Road would have enabled the district to move some 400 kindergarten, pre-school and special needs children from the three-floor Village Elementary School on Detroit Road into the current one-story middle school.

No decision has been made whether to go back to the voters again.

“We’ll just take a step back and look at it,” Reitenbach said.

The decision to combine two previous operating levies into one renewal was made in late 2011 in response to surveys of the community that found “voter fatigue,” Reitenbach said.

“We clearly understood that and knew we had one renewal up this year and another in 2013, so we felt the intelligent thing to do was to put them together,” Reitenbach said.

The merged levies will generate $2.5 million a year, which makes up about 8 percent of the district’s roughly $30 million annual budget, Reitenbach said.

The renewal will be used for such things as salaries, insurance coverage, supplies, textbooks and transportation.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.