Licking County News

Southwest Licking Board looks for levy leaders

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Anyone is welcome to take charge, but Southwest Licking School Board members said Thursday, Aug. 15, they are looking primarily for district parents of younger students to lead the campaign to pass a 6.04 mills bond issue on the November general election ballot.

"It's important that the leaders be parents," said Don Huber, a board member. "Our credibility is enhanced."

The 6.04 mills bond issue would cost the owner of a $100,000 house about $211 per year. It is slated to help finance a $96 million construction and renovation project, which includes building one new elementary school to house grades K-5; and add renovations to Etna, Kirkersville and Pataskala elementary schools also to house K-5.

The district plans renovations and an addition to Watkins Memorial High School to house grades 6-8, and then build one new high school to house grades 9-12 and Career Tech.

Finally, the district plans to demolish Southwest Licking Kindergarten Center and the administration office building.

Superintendent Robert Jennell said the district provided residents with information about the levy from a Southwest Licking Schools booth at the Pataskala Street Fair and "We're taking questions right now," from the public to be answered in the near future.

However, Jennell said a levy campaign needs to begin now, starting with selecting leadership, including a campaign treasurer.

Huber said district residents who were not parents have done a fine job leading campaigns in the past, but, "When it's for their kids, (parents) are really going to be invested."

Jennell said PTO leaders have classically led energetic campaigns.

Board President Dave Engel suggested asking building principals who they would recommend, even if not PTO leaders.

"We need people who cannot only organize, but sub-organize," Engel said.

"We need people who can communicate with passion and inspire others to communicate with passion," Huber said.

He said he believes parents of children in the elementary or middle schools would have the most passion for passing the bond issue.

"It's those parents who are really excited because they have kids who will have the opportunity to go to the new school," said Board Member Brad Williams, who was sworn in prior to Thursday's meeting.

Williams will fulfill the unexpired term of former board vice president Cindy Zaino who resigned July 25.

"I agree with (Huber) 100 percent," Williams said. "Those parents will have the passion."

"High school parents are welcome, but I'm hearing already that it's the parents of the younger children who are really excited about all of this," Huber said.

Jennell said the district has to have some "fire-ups and kickoffs" for the campaign, such as ahead of football games, but there's also a need for a more organized campaign event.

"I hope to do that within the next couple of weeks," Jennell said.

"Right now, we just need a core group," Huber said. "One has to be willing to be treasurer."

"We're not trying to build this extravagant building, we're just trying to build what we need," said Richard Jones, district treasurer.

Board members said those interested in becoming a campaign leader should call the district office at 740-927-3941.

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