For proponents of Issue 6, the combined bond issue and operating levy Grandview Heights Schools has placed on the Nov. 6 ballot, the numbers add up to a simple equation.

Three school buildings with an average age of 90 years and $44 million in deferred maintenance identified in a comprehensive facilities assessment mean the time is right for a plan to address the aging structures.

"There comes a time when you have to face the obvious," said Mike Curtin, who is leading the Committee for Grandview Heights Schools with Katie Matney and Greg Moody.

"This is the obvious," Curtin said. "It's an issue of obsolescence and need. I'm two-thirds as old as these buildings, and I'm pretty creaky, but I tell people I'm in much better shape than our school buildings are."

The bond issue would fund a $55.2 million plan that would include construction of a new 4-8 building on the site of the current Edison Intermediate/Larson Middle School; comprehensive renovations of Grandview Heights High School; and limited upgrades to Stevenson Elementary School.

Safety and security measures would be added at each school and a connector would link the high school with the new 4-8 building.

The work at Stevenson would include only safety and security measures and make the building compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Issue 6 also includes a 1.0-mill operating levy.

The combined millage would cost homeowners $239 more in taxes annually for each $100,000 of property valuation.

"I wish every voter in Grandview would take the opportunity to tour and see the buildings for themselves," Curtin said. "If everyone was familiar with the buildings and their condition, we would win in a slam dunk."

See for yourself

People who are the most familiar with the school buildings, including many who attended the schools themselves, were among the earliest supporters of Issue 6, Curtin said.

Most voters who live in the district do not have children attending Grandview schools, he said.

"You're dealing with the lion's share of the electorate who don't know the level of obsolescence of these buildings," he said. "Our job has been to -- in a high-level and diplomatic way, without being alarmist -- educate people who are not familiar with the buildings."

The issues facing the district's facilities in some cases are deficiencies that must be addressed, Moody said.

"Sometimes it's aspirational," he said. "What do we want our schools to be in our community? We have the opportunity to create something pretty awesome for our district and our children."

The proposed project would allow the district to offer students "a safe, secure, healthy and productive learning environment," Curtin said.

Major renovations are needed at Grandview Heights High School, which "looks great" if one only views the facade while driving down Third Avenue, Moody said

"As soon as you walk through the front doors, you find that, internally, it's obsolete," he said.

The Edison Intermediate/Larson Middle School building has been "cobbled together" haphazardly over the years as additions were tacked onto the original structure, Moody said.

The plan as presented is in effect the community's plan, Curtin said.

"The 2 1/2-year (facility planning) process the district went through was as comprehensive and transparent as it could be," he said. "If you want to oppose it, oppose it for upfront reasons: it's too expensive, the scope of the project's too large. But to challenge the process itself isn't fair."

Curtin and Matney participated in the financial advisory committee that reviewed the proposal presented by Superintendent Andy Culp.

The wealth of information the committee pored over "was like drinking water through a fire hose," Curtin said.

"It was incredibly confirming of how dire the situation is," he said. "Grandview has sort of paid a price because we've had magicians (in the form of district maintenance staff) the last few decades finding ways of keeping the jalopy running."

"This is a project that should have been done years ago," Moody said.

"The academic success we've had as a district is in spite of our buildings, not because of them," Curtin said.

'Balancing act'

The "deep dive" the financial advisory committee undertook in reviewing the proposed plan and its expected costs resulted in a final proposal "we felt was the most responsible," Matney said.

"We felt we could look people in the eye and recommend it as what we need to invest in our schools right now to keep them on track," she said.

The $55.2 million project "is way lower" than some options that were presented to the public and represents a "middle ground," Matney said.

No facilities plan would see 100 percent acceptance, Curtin said, but the proposed upgrades on the ballot earned the support of a plurality of residents participating in a community engagement process.

Issue 6 is a "balancing act" with a facilities plan that offers aesthetic, financial and educational value, he said.

Opponents of the ballot measure have not provided an alternate plan, Curtin said.

"If we ask those folks for a proposal of what they would do if Issue 6 does not pass, we get radio silence," he said. "They are against the plan, but they won't tell you what they are for. It's simply 'something else.' "

One of the common misconceptions is that a cheaper plan could result if the district waited until the effort to renegotiate the school compensation agreement for the Grandview Yard project is complete, Curtin said.

"This is just demonstrably false," he said. "The $55.2 million bond issue is what is needed at this time to do the work that has been presented. That won't be reduced if the renegotiation is successful. Construction costs and interest rates would continue to increase if we wait."

A successful renegotiation could allow for a reduction of the effective millage rate property owners would pay, Curtin said, but would not reduce the actual cost of the project.

If Issue 6 fails, "it would be a huge setback for our community," Matney said.

"Buildings don't fix themselves," Curtin said.

The deferred maintenance still would have to be addressed -- with a higher price tag -- if the current plan isn't approved by voters, Moody said.

"We'd be forced to come back and figure out how to do something that would be more costly with less improvements," Curtin said.

The campaign committee is basing its effort on providing the facts to voters, Moody said.

"The Grandview way is to put all the information out there and let people make their own decisions and judge what the community needs," he said. "If you just share the facts, people will make the appropriate decision."

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