In an extremely narrow victory, residents of the Big Walnut Local School District voted Nov. 7 to approve a combined bond issue and levy for the schools by just 140 votes.
With all precincts reporting Nov. 7, the levy passed by a vote of 3,825 to 3,682 votes, or 51 to 49 percent, according to final, unofficial results from the Delaware County Board of Elections.
The race was so close that even by 11:30 p.m., Superintendent Angie Pollock was cautious to celebrate.
“We’re pleased that unofficial election results show that we won,” she said. “We want to remain cautiously optimistic and make sure the board of elections finalizes that, but we feel good about it.”
The district asked voters to approve a combined 6.6-mill bond issue and a 1.25-mill permanent-improvement levy.
The bond issue is expected to raise an estimated $108 million and will be paid back over 37 years. The money will be used to build a new high school and an additional elementary school, as well as to add security upgrades to existing buildings.
According to Big Walnut officials, the issue will cost residents an increasing amount as the full millage begins to be collected. The district expects to collect just 1.56 mills in 2018, costing homeowners about $55 per $100,000 in property value.
That number will rise each year, from $99 in 2019 to $226 in 2020, ultimately arriving at around $275 when the full millage begins to be collected, leaders said.
The successful ballot issue comes a year after a failed issue.
Last November, residents said “no” to a $134 million, 8.3-mill bond issue by a vote of 6,204 to 5,287, or 54 percent to 46 percent.
Pollock said she and other school leaders expected a close race again this year -- though maybe not this close -- and were proud of the work they put in.
“We figured it would be close,” she said. “As a growing community, we have lots of people with different perspectives in our community. Based on the results last year, we figured it would be close, but we were hopeful we got the word out and were able to engage our community.”
In the race for three seats on the Big Walnut school board, incumbents Allison Fagan and Brad Schneider and newcomer Douglas Crowl bested the efforts of write-in candidate Liana Lee.
With all precincts reporting Nov. 7, Fagan was the top vote-getter with 3,909 votes (31 percent), followed by Schneider with 3,604 votes (29 percent) and Crowl with 2,715 votes (22 percent), according to the board of elections. Lee garnered 2,189 votes (18 percent) as a write-in.
The board of elections in August failed to certify the petition of candidate Nicole Hess, leaving just three names on the ballot.