Whitehall City School District voters will be asked in November to consider a ballot issue that would allow an addition to Rosemore Middle School and renovations at Whitehall-Yearling High School.
Board members voted 5-0 July 12 for the placement of a 3.41-mill combined permanent-improvement levy and bond issue on the Nov. 6 ballot.
"There is a need," Whitehall school board President Blythe Wood said.
The resolution board members passed is en route to the Franklin County Board of Elections after which an issue number will be assigned, Wood said, and certify it to the Nov. 6 ballot.
A campaign to promote the levy is underway and headed by Tiffanie Charles, a former board candidate, Karen Conison, a member of Whitehall City Council, and Amy Harcar.
"Whitehall schools have experienced an exceptional increase in enrollment since we began opening our new buildings in January 2012," Whitehall Superintendent Brian Hamler said.
The proposed 3.41-mill issue would increase homeowners' annual property-tax bills by $119 per $100,000 in property valuation, Hamler said. A district homeowner currently pays $1,364 annually per $100,000 of property valuation.
The combined measure would be the first ballot issue Whitehall schools have sought in 10 years.
In 2008, Whitehall voters approved a $23 million bond issue as part of an agreement with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission that completed a $78 million project to rebuild all five schools in the Whitehall district.
"We have been very fortunate to have a partner in the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission to help us manage growth," Hamler said.
Whitehall again is partnering with the commission to expand Rosemore Middle School and renovate Whitehall-Yearling High School.
As was the case in 2008 concerning the $23 million bond issue, Whitehall voters in November must approve the 3.41-mill issue to receive the commission's assistance.
"We don't take asking the public for a tax increase lightly," Hamler said.
Since 2012, Whitehall's average daily enrollment has increased 24 percent, according to Hamler, which is "indicative of a healthy, growing community."
The increase is the second largest by percentage among all Ohio school districts in that time span, Hamler said.
After reviewing future enrollment projections, the commission offered to fund 61 percent of the cost to construct an expansion to Rosemore Middle School that would house an additional 200 students, Hamler said.
"The time is now for us to finish what we started (in 2008) and protect the community's investment by taking advantage (of the commission's offer)."
Enrollment has surpassed 3,400 students districtwide; the district's three elementary schools, middle school and high school were designed for a capacity of 2,943 students, Treasurer Steve McAfee said in January.
"We're particularly concerned about Rosemore Middle School," he said. "It was designed to house 652 students and enrollment could approach 900 by 2020-21."
In addition to an expansion at Rosemore, the ballot issue would, if approved, allow for renovations at Whitehall-Yearling to increase classroom space and to replace the stadium's natural-grass field with artificial turf, Wood said.