As Election Day looms, proponents of the Whitehall City School District's 3.41-mill ballot measure are on a mission to promote what they see as a vital issue.
The district will ask voters to approve a 3.41-mill combined permanent-improvement levy and bond issue, appearing as Issue 8 on the Nov. 6 ballot.
"This is personal to me. These schools are my alma mater," said Karen Conison, a member of Citizens Supporting Whitehall Schools, formed to campaign for Issue 8.
Conison, a 1980 graduate of Whitehall-Yearling High School, also is a member of Whitehall City Council.
Citizens Supporting Whitehall Schools convened for a kickoff rally Sept. 17 at the high school.
A fundraising event followed Sept. 20, Conison said.
Volunteers planned to deliver yard signs Sept. 22 and the first of two literature drops is set for Oct. 13, she said.
"It is so important to pass this levy," she said. "When (our new schools) were built, they didn't plan for any growth in Whitehall. Now our city is flourishing thanks to the opportunities provided by our (city) administration and our wonderful services."
Whitehall Superintendent Brian Hamler said the district has experienced "an exceptional increase in enrollment" since it began opening the first of five new school buildings in January 2012.
Since then, Whitehall's average daily enrollment has increased 24 percent, which is "indicative of a healthy, growing community," Hamler said.
That increase is the second largest by percentage among all Ohio school districts in that time span, he said.
The combined measure is the first ballot issue Whitehall schools have sought in 10 years.
In 2008, 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 Whitehall schools.
Whitehall again is partnering with the commission, this time to expand Rosemore Middle School and renovate Whitehall-Yearling.
But voters must approve the 3.41-mill issue to receive the commission's assistance.
If the issue is approved, the commission would fund 61 percent of the cost to construct an expansion to Rosemore that would house an additional 200 students, Hamler said.
"We're particularly concerned about Rosemore Middle School. It was designed to house 652 students and enrollment could approach 900 by 2020-21," Treasurer Steve McAfee said earlier this year.
Enrollment has eclipsed 3,400 students districtwide for five schools that were designed for a capacity of just less than 3,000, McAfee said.
In addition to an expansion at Rosemore, the ballot issue would, if approved, allow for renovations at Whitehall-Yearling to increase classroom space and replace the stadium's natural-grass field with artificial turf.
The proposed 3.41-mill issue would increase homeowners' annual property-tax bills by $119 per $100,000 in property valuation. A district homeowner currently pays $1,364 annually per $100,000 of property valuation, according to district officials.
Whitehall voters will see three other local ballot issues in November.
Voters will be asked in separate questions to amend the city charter.
The questions will appear as Issues 36, 37 and 38 on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Issue 37, which asks voters whether to extend the maximum number of consecutive terms an elected official may serve from two to three, has drawn the most attention.
"It's something voters should decide," Council President Jim Graham said.
Twice before, voters have rejected suspending term limits.
Residents rejected lifting term limits altogether in 2002 and 2013 after first instituting them in 1993.
Also on the ballot, Issue 36 would remove the service director from the line of succession for mayor, and Issue 38 would create gender-neutral language in the charter.