Licking County News

Licking Heights will seek 2.86-mill bond on Aug. 5 ballot

By

The Licking Heights school board voted unanimously April 24 to approve a 2.86-mill bond issue for the Aug. 5 ballot.

District officials say enrollment is increasing, particularly at the elementary level.

"This levy will allow us to address the continued enrollment growth of our district," said board President Brian Bagley. "It will also allow us to continuing moving the educational bar higher. If the bond measure passes in August, the district will be prepared to offer all-day kindergarten to incoming students in the 2014-15 school year."

According to a Licking Heights press release, the bond would provide a local match to state funding from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission.

It would be used for a new high school building to accommodate the number of students currently in the system and expected increases in enrollment. The current high school building was designed for 900 students, and it is roughly 60 students over capacity.

"It's a huge issue for us with growth this year," board member Richard Wand said. "A lot of our growth is in the elementary schools."

It's just a matter of time until they reach the high school, Wand said.

Interim Treasurer Peg Betts said the bond issue would raise $26,575,000 with the expectation that the state would provide another $21 million to $30 million.

The bond would cost district homeowners about $99 per year per $100,000 of assessed property value.

"We have to take advantage of opportunities when the state offers funding," Wand said. "We know we have to add facilities to address our record growth.

"The only question is whether we are going to utilize the state funds or fund it all locally without that help."

Wand said board members previously discussed trying to build a new high school without going to the ballot, but once the state made it clear to them the facilities necessary to accommodate the projected influx of students, they had no choice but to ask voters.

According to the press release, district administrators are planning for both the half-day or full-day option for kindergartners and will be prepared to implement either option based on election results.

Licking Heights had central Ohio's third-highest enrollment increase -- about 14.5 percent -- over the past five years, according to The Columbus Dispatch in an April 13 story citing the Ohio Department of Education.

The district added 470 students over the past five years, The Dispatch story said.

Comments