While there's no such thing as a free lunch, the South-Western City Schools' plan to take advantage of millions of dollars offered by the state is as close to a windfall as the district's taxpayers ever could hope to achieve.

While there's no such thing as a free lunch, the South-Western City Schools' plan to take advantage of millions of dollars offered by the state is as close to a windfall as the district's taxpayers ever could hope to achieve.

The goal is to build 13 elementary schools and renovate two more, and to build a new Franklin Heights High School.

Central to the plan is Issue 8, a 38-year, $148-million bond issue, carrying a pricetag crafted to match a combined 2.9 mills now being spend to pay off debt that soon will be retired.

For that reason, if Issue 8 passes, it won't increase the property taxes homeowners currently pay.

The net effect is that if voters approve Issue 8 on March 6, the district will have the 50-percent matching funds needed to qualify for the Ohio School Facilities Commission's facilities assistance program, allowing the district to perform construction and renovation estimated to cost more than a combined $200 million.

No money from Issue 8 would be spent on employee salaries or operating costs. All the money would be used for the building replacement program and/or capital expenditures to equip the structures.

The buildings to be replaced or renovated are overdue for attention; 13 were built before 1965 and 10 were built before 1960.

Most have been renovated at least once in the succeeding decades, but school officials estimated the buildings need maintenance work that would total more than $40 million. That's work that hasn't been done because the money hasn't been unavailable.

ThisWeek urges voters to cast ballots in favor of Issue 8.