A-W’s third bond attempt fails

Posted December 20, 2018 at 6:00 am

By Julie Ann Madden

On Dec. 11, Akron-Westfield School District’s special bond vote ended nearly 10 percent short of the 60 percent needed to pass.

There were 807 ballots cast in this special election — 50.56 percent voted to approve the $6.99 million General Obligation Bond, and 49.44 percent voted against it.

With this being the third bond attempt, school board members tried a new facility improvement plan with new election tactics.

They hired the D.A. Davison firm to help with the financial matters of the General Obligation Bond and CMBA Architects Inc. to market the plan to the district’s voters.

The marketing plan included:

• Hosting public forums asking district voters what they felt were priorities and then tailoring the plan to meet those needs.

The plan included two phases: the first to be paid by the General Obligation Bond with a possibly of another $150,000 needed from other district funding, and the second phase paid through Physical Plant & Equipment Levy (PPEL) tax revenues and Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE) tax dollars, which were formerly known as the School Infrastructure Local Option (SILO) “state penny” sales tax.

• Publishing a brochure with the new plan, encouraging district voters to go to the polls on Dec. 11.

• Hosting two “satellite voting nights in A-W’s Technology Room where voters could cast absentee ballots. There were 101 voters did cast ballots this way.

Another 28 voted absentee ballots in the regular process through the Plymouth County Auditor’s Office.

• Conducting a social media campaign.

Of the 807 voters, 678 cast their votes at the regular A-W polling place, which is the Akron Public Library.

The final tally was that 408 people voted for the bond and 399 voted against it.

What’s Next?

“As far as being defeated, I was surprised,” said A-W School Board President Nick Schoenfelder.

“I wasn’t sure if it would be close like the last two times because we didn’t hear anything,” he said, adding he knows there’s still a sentiment out there around the school board purchasing the former Total Motors auto dealership property and selling a portion to Dollar General and that residents, Westfield and south in the district, are mad they hadn’t been notified of the bonds.

The board did send out 93 letters inviting some of those residents to a public forum at the Westfield Community Center and only a handful came, noted Schoenfelder.

“There are also those that are just going to be ‘No’ votes just because they don’t want their taxes to go up,” said Schoenfelder.

When asked what the next step was, he responded, “I don’t know.”

“We’ll go back to the drawing board and try to figure it out,” said Schoenfelder. “At this point we don’t have a plan. (The Facilities Committee) hasn’t even met as a group yet. We won’t meet until after the holidays.”

The earliest the board could set another bond election is six months.

When asked if the board would try a fourth attempt, Schoenfelder responded, “I really don’t know. We’ve tried it three times — I’m not sure.”

“These updates (the bond was for) are education-based,” he said. “They are important and they are needed.”

“People replace the roofs on their houses, replace the heaters and water heaters,” said Schoenfelder. “We just need to do some of these things to bring them up to today’s standards because some (building systems) have been up there for over 45 years.”

“We’re open to any feedback that people want to give us,” he said. “If people are upset about something, they need to communicate that because we can’t know our direction or where we’re messing up if people aren’t willing to come out and share it with us.”

“Will we change the plan if we go forward — probably not,” said Schoenfelder. “I think it’s the right plan but I’m just one person in the big scheme.”

The next regular school board meeting is Monday, Jan. 14 in the school library.

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