Voters approved Issue 6, Grandview Heights Schools' plan to revamp or replace all of the district’s buildings, by a narrow margin Nov. 6.
With all precincts reporting, the bond issue was approved 2,421 to 2,237 votes, or 52 to 48 percent, according to unofficial results from the Franklin County Board of Elections.
"We are grateful to the voters of the community for their support and we are grateful to the hundreds of volunteers who helped make this possible," Superintendent Andy Culp said.
The bond issue's passage was the culmination of "a three-year effort to engage the community in a community-driven process," Culp said. "At the end of the day, the plan we came up with was bigger than any one person and involved a process conducted with integrity.
"I think people recognized that the need is real," he said. "We have $44 million in deferred maintenance and our buildings, which were constructed in 1911, 1922 and 1926, are past their useful life. The community recognized that."
The narrow margin of passage demonstrates that there is "still a lot of unifying to do" in the community, campaign committee co-chairman Mike Curtin said.
"This is only the first step in a process that will require a continuing effort to educate the community," he said. "It's our hope that over time the level of acceptance will be 60-40, 70-30 or even higher and that residents will recognize this is a solid, prudent plan" to address the district's facility needs.
"At the same time, we will need to hold the board of education and the superintendent to the pledges we made about the effective millage rate once the negotiations regarding the Grandview Yard school compensation agreement are completed," Curtin said.
Issue 6 includes 7.51 mills to fund a school facilities project.
The $55.25 million facilities plan will include construction of a new grade 4-8 building on the current site of Edison Intermediate/Larson Middle School, substantial improvements to Grandview Heights High School and construction of a connector between the high school and the new 4-8 building. Improvements to Stevenson Elementary School will be limited to safety and security and ADA compliance. Enhanced safety and security elements also will be implemented at the other school buildings.
The levy will cost property owners an additional $239 per $100,000 of property valuation, but district officials have said a successful renegotiation of the Grandview Yard compensation agreement could mean property owners end up paying less.
Treasurer Beth Colllier said the district estimates the cost to taxpayers could be cut in half.
Issue 6 was a combined 7.5-mill bond levy to fund the facilities project and a 1-mill operating levy. A total of 1.66 mills will expire at the end of the year, resulting in a net increase in the bond of 5.84 mills.
The district plans to complete the facilities project in three phases, beginning with the demolition of the Edison/Larson commons and construction of the new 4-8 school building between the high school and the current Edison/Larson building.
During the second phase, high school students will move into the newly constructed 4-8 building while the high school building is comprehensively renovated.
During the last portion of the project, high school students will move back into the renovated high school and Edison/Larson students will be moved into the new school building. The Edison/Larson building and the adjacent kindergarten annex building then will be demolished.
The improvements to enhance safety and security at Stevenson and bring the school into ADA compliance will be completed during the summers of 2021 and 2022.
A group of residents formed No on Issue 6, a grassroots community group that campaigned against the bond issue, suggesting the size and scope of the facilities plan was too large.
"I am really proud of the work that we did," said Tracy Kessler, who served as treasurer for the group. "We knew it was a David vs. Goliath situation with the amount of money and resources the pro-levy folks had.
"They had to campaign hard to win this election, and even then, only did so by a few percentage points," she said.
"Having said that, I think it still sends a strong message to our schools," Kessler said. "We hope the school board considers the results of this close vote as they look ahead to the future of our
schools. Our committee and supporters respect the process of our democracy and congratulate them on their well-organized campaign."