UPDATE: Community survey focus of Van Buren meeting

By MAX FILBY
STAFF WRITER

The fate of Van Buren schools’ $29.3 million bond issue may be determined at a 6:30 p.m. meeting today in the Allen Township building, 12829 Ohio 613.

The district is hosting the meeting to discuss the results of a community survey conducted during the past month.

In May, Van Buren residents voted down the $29.3 million tax proposal with 853 votes, or 62 percent, against it, according to the Hancock County Board of Elections. The bond issue had 527 voters in favor.

The survey to be discussed today could result in the levy’s reappearance on the November ballot, or a different ballot initiative, Superintendent Tim Myers has said.

The effort to reach out to voters is the result of complaints that the district didn’t do a good enough job of explaining the need for the May bond issue.

“We just didn’t do a good enough job of getting information out to people,” Myers said. “Now we’re asking, ‘Do people have enough to make a decision?’”

After announcing the May bond issue in January, the district hosted a number of open houses and information sessions that “were not highly attended,” Myers said.

“There’s been a history of Van Buren residents not attending things like that,” Myers said. “If they’re not going to come in here, then we need to do better at reaching out to them.”

For any proposal to appear on the November ballot, the school board would have submit it to the Hancock County Board of Elections by an Aug. 6 deadline.

The 37-year, 6.9-mill package that voters turned down in May would have paid for building 37 new classrooms and a new gym at the middle school and high school.

The district is not eligible for state funding for the project because its property valuation is too high, considering its enrollment.

The new classrooms and gym would have replaced an existing portion of the school that was built in 1918, making it 96 years old. That part of the building is so old that it regularly has water main leaks, Myers said.

The building’s chimney and floors are also deteriorating.

“It wasn’t passed, but none of these things have gone away,” Myers said. “We need to figure out some way to handle them.”

Filby: 419-427-8422
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