Facing rapid growth and dwindling classroom space, the Big Walnut Local School District is preparing to ask residents to approve a bond issue of nearly $134 million.

Facing rapid growth and dwindling classroom space, the Big Walnut Local School District is preparing to ask residents to approve a bond issue of nearly $134 million.

In June, the Big Walnut school board approved a resolution declaring the necessity of the bond issue, which would be placed on the Nov. 8 ballot after valuations from the Delaware County Auditor's Office, and another resolution sending the issue to the Delaware County Board of Elections.

The decision comes after months of research and outreach by the district. Leaders held several public meetings and created economic-development and facilities committees to look into what would be required of the district.

The committees and district-hired consultants found that Big Walnut is facing growth that could nearly double its size within the next 10 years, and directed the board to plan for a new high school, a new elementary school and renovations to other buildings.

Board Vice President Andy Wecker said the group's decision was relatively easy.

"We have a building capacity of roughly 4,000 seats and we currently have roughly 3,500 students," he said. "We have projections that have us scheduled in the next five to 10 years to have 5,000 to 6,000 students. That's what it boils down to."

Facilities committee Chairman Bob Kuederle directed the board to act "as soon as possible" rather than wait on hard data to match projections as some parents suggested at meetings.

Wecker said the board agreed. He said the district "would still find ourselves behind" even if they had started the process a year ago, and credited Big Walnut leaders for acting decisively.

"It's as proactive as you're going to see in local government and a lot more proactive than you'd ever see in state or federal government, and we're having to make do with less because we're paying for it ourselves," he said.

The school district now waits to hear from the auditor's office, where the exact millage for the bond issue will be determined. Wecker said that number would determine its cost to homeowners.

Victory at the polls would mean the construction of a new high school and a new elementary school.

From there, seventh- and eighth-graders would move into the existing high school, while students in grades 5-6 would move into the existing middle school. The current intermediate school and the new elementary school would serve younger students. Big Walnut leaders see their outreach as a key to the bond issue.

Wecker credited "hundreds of hours" of volunteer and staff time during the process of investigating the district's needs and communicating them to residents, and said he likes to think residents of the area are well-informed.

But the district still has to overcome the growth numbers, which can shock some who aren't familiar with the data.

"I think Delaware County is growing at a rate that continues to surprise people," Wecker said. "Our friends in Olentangy have absorbed the bulk of that, but now you're going to start seeing more of that in other parts of the county."

Wecker said he doesn't want to predict what voters will do.

He said residents will "hopefully" agree with the board's assessment, and said the bond issue could be a major turning point for Big Walnut.

"We find ourselves in the path of progress," he said. "We can either receive that as a problem or as an opportunity."