December 22, 2014

Elyria
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Keystone schools seek tax levy

Correction: Due to incorrect information provided, this story originally stated Issue #3 as the levy for the school district. Issue #3 is the Elyria Public Library Levy and is not associated with the school district.

LAGRANGE — The Keystone Elementary School building on Liberty Street one day may become a community recreation center.

But there’s a hitch.

For the community to receive such a facility, the school district’s Issue 4 operational levy must pass May 6.

According to Keystone Superintendent Jay Arbaugh, the district plans to partner with the YMCA of Greater Cleveland, the Lorain County Health Department and the village of LaGrange to develop portions of the building into a community and recreation center.

The Lorain County Health Department has awarded the district a grant of $300,000 over a three-year period to split with the North Ridgeville community. If the tax levy is successful, it could last an indefinite amount of time, Arbaugh said.

“If we are able to pass the levy, the district would be in a position to basically donate the property and we could have a community center here,” Arbaugh said.

However, if the levy does not pass, there will be no community or recreation center.

The other options are to auction the property or to demolish it and sell the acreage.

The money received from the sale would go to the school district, Arbaugh said.

It has been 22 years since the Keystone district passed an operating levy.

Issue 3 is a 5.95-mill levy for five years. If passed, the levy would bring an additional $1,422,658 annually. The cost of the levy to a homeowner of a $100,000 home would be $17.35 per month.

LaGrange Mayor Kim Strauss said the passage of the levy is crucial because not only would it bring a community and recreation center to town, but it would also allow the Police Department to relocate and possibly add a senior center and fitness center.

“We are running out of room (at the Municipal Building),” Strauss said.

Strauss said the two gymnasiums in the building are worth salvaging. “I don’t want to see them torn down because they can do a lot of good,” he said.

Strauss emphasized the importance of passing the levy, not only for the future of the students, but for the community as well.

“It’s an exciting project and a great idea (to donate the elementary school) to the village. If the levy does not pass, it will be sold to another entity to help pay for school funds. There is a need for cash flow for the schools,” Strauss said.

Arbaugh noted that funds generated from the passage of the levy would assist in paying for wireless technology; the school resource officer; technology class at the elementary school; Spanish, STEM and robotics classes at the middle school; and dual enrollment and advanced placement classes at the high school.

A meeting will be 3 p.m. Monday at the LaGrange Village Hall, 355 S. Center St., to discuss the future of the building on Liberty Street.

Contact Melissa Linebrink at 329-7243 or mlinebrink@chroniclet.com.