It remains to be seen if there will be any organized campaign against the bond issue the Grandview Heights Schools will place on the Nov. 6 ballot.
But a citizens group that was formed to express its concern about the size and scope of a potential facilities project says it will not mount a campaign.
The Good for Grandview group, which formed last fall after Superintendent Andy Culp presented an initial recommendation, has closed its online petition after the board's unanimous vote to place a bond issue for a revised plan on the ballot, Good for Grandview member Steve McIntosh said.
The group's position was that although the district's facilities need to be upgraded, the size and scope of the plan Culp presented would have been too large to gain the support of a majority of the community.
Culp's initial recommendation was for a plan that would have completed major renovations at the high school and Stevenson Elementary School and constructed a new building for grades 4-8 at the location of Edison Intermediate/Larson Middle School.
The estimated cost of that plan was $45-$50 million.
A financial advisory committee reviewed Culp's plan and recommended a revised project that would maintain the high school renovations and new building but limit improvements at Stevenson to those related to safety and security and ADA compliance.
The committee also recommended including enhanced safety and security elements at the other school buildings and that a connector be built between the high school and the new building.
The estimated cost for the revised project is $55.2 million.
The school board July 9 voted to accept the plan and place a bond issue that would include 7.51 mills for the facilities project and 1.0 mill for operating revenue.
The action followed the board's vote June 27, declaring the necessity of the bond issue.
According to the resolution, the bonds would be used in the amount of $55,250,000 and would be repaid over a maximum period of 38 years.
The combined millage would cost residents $239 more in taxes each year for every $100,000 valuation of their property.
Good for Grandview still will be engaged in the months leading up to the bond issue vote.
"(Our group) started out as an effort to petition the board and, though we will remain active in an informative capacity, it would be inappropriate for us to allow the terrific support for our petition to be co-opted into a 'vote no' initiative," McIntosh said.
The purpose of the petition was to ask "for a more reasonable and appropriate plan," he said.
"It wouldn't be appropriate for us to pivot and become something other than that," McIntosh said. "We are very sensitive to honoring the spirit of the petition and the intent of those who signed it."
About 360 residents signed the online petition, he said.
The school district "remains insulated from open dialog with the community it was elected to serve," McIntosh said. "People are hungry to engage on this important matter."
So Good for Grandview members intend "to continue to provide the clarity" the facilities process has been lacking, McIntosh said.
"We'll do this in the same pro-education, pro-community spirit we have (demonstrated) since day one," he said.
The district's response to Good for Grandview's petition was to endorse "an even more extravagant plan that manages to address fewer deferred maintenance needs," McIntosh said.
That leaves supporters of the group's petition feeling "troubled" they were "so casually dismissed and disregarded," he said.
McIntosh said a recent spike in interest in the Good for Grandview website and Facebook could be a sign that concern over the plan is growing.
"While it's still too early to tell what shape an opposition will take, I'd be surprised if there isn't at least one organized group that comes out against the levy," he said.
District officials are "extremely pleased with the final plan because it was fully vetted by our community," Culp said. "It's the community's plan."
Two community-led groups provided guidance throughout the process, and community feedback was gathered through multiple surveys and community meetings, resulting in more than 3,600 touch points with residents in the district, he said.
"We will continue to inform and answer questions anyone may have," Culp said. "We are planning to reach out through additional meetings and community coffees -- like we've done throughout the process.
"The fact is the average age of our schools is 90 years and the district only has $540,000 annually dedicated to building maintenance and a total of more than $44 million in basic upgrades needed for our buildings to remain serviceable," he said. "We can either do something now about our aging schools or wait and potentially face a financial crisis as our structures and systems could fail.
The most important part of this process was to ensure that this was the community's plan, and the final plan reflects the feedback we received through the more than 3,600 community touch points
"This has been nearly a three-year community process and the outcome reflects the community's wishes for their schools. We are very open to answer any questions. We have a "Facility Planning" tab linked to our main district webpage that comprehensively captures our extensive process. This includes survey results, videos of our eight community meetings, exit ticket responses, the facility assessment, enrollment projections and much more."
Culp said the district still is working to name committee chairpersons for the bond issue campaign.
"We are so pleased that a number of residents have expressed interest in supporting the community's plan to address our outdate facilities," he said.
"We are still working to finalize our committee chairs but are so pleased that a number of residents have expressed interest in supporting the community's plan to address our outdated facilities. We hope to have this finalized shortly."
The district places a priority on having an open dialogue with the community, Culp said.
"We know in order to be successful, we must reach out to as many voters as possible to ensure they are informed as they head to the polls," he said. "Our plan is to continue to host meetings, building tours and be available to answer questions."
The district's website includes a "frequently asked questions" page that is update regularly to reflect questions community members raise about the plan, Culp said.