December 19, 2014

Elyria
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North Ridgeville voters pass bond issue for new middle school

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — North Ridgeville voters decided Tuesday to remake the face of North Ridgeville Schools by approving a $58.1 million bond issue for a new middle school and football stadium.

Superintendent Jim Powell was still digesting the victory just after the final voters were counted.

“I’m having a hard time believing, but I’m very excited,” Powell said as campaign supporters could be heard celebrating in the background. “This is really good. It shows me the community trusts us and is ready to support us, and I’m so thankful for that.”

Voters approved the issue 4,311 to 3,839, or 53 percent to 47 percent, according to unofficial election results.

School officials and supporters thought it would take about 5,000 favorable votes to pass the issue, which will see construction of a new school to house third- through eighth-graders and ease crowding that currently has about 1,000 students in the 1923 school built for just under 800.

“We were under that, but it was still a pretty good turnout in a non-presidential year,” Powell said.

The outcome was a far cry from the 63-vote defeat of a bond issue in 2006 that proposed a centralized school district campus on Bainbridge Road with North RidgevilleHigh School converted into a middle school.

Powell and board members Robb Lyons and Kelly McCarthy agreed that the need for a new school was clear.

Powell and McCarthy said that those who voted against the issue likely did not do so because of any discontent over the plans, which include $8 million for a new 5,000-seat football stadium, or talk of tying the bond issue to future commercial development on the site of the current middle school near state Routes 20 and 83.

“People who voted no were predisposed to vote no,” Powell said. “They didn’t need a reason.”

Passage of the bond issue will now afford the board and administration “the opportunity to further scrutinize costs to look for ways to potentially lower costs” for the stadium, Lyons said.

The new middle school will produce a major reconfiguration of the district by easing not only crowding at the middle school level, but at Liberty and Wilcox elementary schools as well.

Each of the latter schools has enrollments of 200 to 250 more pupils than either was supposed to house.

The Ohio School Facilities Commission, which approved $8.9 million for a new school, deemed the district’s buildings severe enough to rank it first among 24 Ohio school systems that applied for state aid for new schools through the commission’s Exceptional Needs program.

The bond issue includes funds for the razing of the 1923 middle school as well as a small office building and gas station.

Clearing the 13-acre school site — which includes the stadium land — should make the location more appealing for developers, school and city officials argue.

The new school will be built on land already owned by the school district near the high school.

The 4.95-mill, 34-year bond issue will cost owners of homes valued at $100,000 an additional $174 a year in property taxes.

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