The group responsible for rallying support for the Johnstown-Monroe Local School District's May bond issue will launch its campaign March 13.

The group responsible for rallying support for the Johnstown-Monroe Local School District's May bond issue will launch its campaign March 13.

A kickoff and fundraiser event is scheduled for 6-8 p.m. Thursday, March 13, at Sugar Woods Banquet and Conference Center, 8551 Johnstown-Utica Road NW.

The pro-levy group is launching a campaign to explain a proposed 8-mill tax issue, with 7.5 mills for bonds to renovate and improve school facilities and 0.5 mill for permanent improvements.

If voters approve, the issue is expected to generate $1,865,231 annually for 38 years.

Residents would pay an additional $280 annually per $100,000 of assessed property value, or $23.33 per month.

District officials began discussions with the Ohio School Facilities Commission about the possibility of new or renovated school facilities in 2000.

Gia Kaul, chairperson of the Johnstown New Schools Levy Campaign, said the group wants to get an effective message to the community about the issue.

The rally will include football coach Mike Carter, Big Red Band director Joe Carver and Nelson McCray, acting Johnstown schools superintendent and superintendent of the Licking County Educational Service Center.

Jay Hazelbaker, chairman of the district's steering committee, said Carter and Carver would address the importance of the issue as it relates to students.

"It will be interesting to hear Dr. McCray's perspective, and he will add credibility to the whole measure," Hazelbaker said. "I'll be there to spell out specifics of what and why we're doing it."

Hazelbaker said the mission of the campaign is to provide succinct and accurate information to the community in an effort to foster the support that is needed to bring new school facilities to the district.

He said the need is unquestionable, and it is time to transform longstanding needs into an achievable reality.

The ultimate goal, Hazelbaker said, is to ensure that all voters are fully informed of the levy initiative and what its passage would provide students and the community.

Kaul said the Big Red Pep Band would perform at the kickoff, and a silent auction will include such items as free registration to the Johnstown Youth Athletic Association and gift cards from local businesses.

Businesses also have provided donations for the fundraiser, including Creno's Pizza, Route 62 BBQ, Subway and Cheryl's Cookies.

Kaul said activities would be available for children, including a balloon artist, a photo booth and face painting.

At the recommendation of a community-based group, the school board took action Jan. 30 to place an issue on the May 6 ballot.

The group recommended and the board approved a proposal for a shared project with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission for a K-5 building at Leafy Dell, a new 9-12 building on the existing high school campus and a partially renovated high school for middle school use.

The renovation would have to be entirely locally funded.

Johnstown-Monroe would have to raise 71 percent of total costs locally, with the state contributing 29 percent, for the shared building projects.

If the issue is approved in May, treasurer Tammy Woods said, she estimates $29.7 million would be spent on the district's master plan for a new high school and elementary school, with $6.16 million going toward the locally funded initiative to refurbish the high school and provide infrastructure needs, for a total project cost of $35.86 million.

The high school renovation would include new heating and ventilating equipment, water and sewer improvements, electrical subpanels for electrical capacity to classrooms, technology upgrades, roof replacement at the library and performing-arts center, a secured vestibule entrance and a new gym floor and bleachers.