Yellow Springs eyes combination levy on ballot


YELLOW SPRINGS — Yellow Springs village schools have taken the first step in putting a combination levy and bond issue on the November ballot in an effort to secure new facilities.

The district adopted a resolution Tuesday morning to enter into an agreement with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission Expedited Local Partnership Program, the plans for which include bringing all students in the district under one roof.

The proposed facility, as outlined in the district’s Master Facilities Plan, would be a single campus to house all K-12 students, as well as its career tech programs. The total cost of the project is just over $35.5 million. The state of Ohio would reimburse the village for 26 percent, or $9 million of that amount, with the district responsible for 74 percent, or just over $26 million.

The plan also includes an allowance to abate and demolish the current buildings: Mills Lawn Elementary and the combined McKinney Middle and Yellow Springs High School. The board formally adopted the plan last Thursday.

The current buildings were built in the 1950s and 60s, according to Superintendent Terri Holden.

“They’ve lived their useful life and have ongoing facility issues,” she said.

Those issues include concerns over both maintenance and safety. Outside of facility benefits, the new school would allow teachers from all grades to work together more easily.

“Instead of having two roofs, you have one roof, it’s an efficiency that I think will serve us well,” Holden said. “We would have the opportunity to leverage the expertise of the teachers, have that vertical alignment, and open up a lot in the academic and curriculum area.”

Yellow Springs is the latest school district in the local area to enter into an agreement with the OFCC. Both Xenia and Fairborn schools passed similar bond issues in November 2020, also grappling with aging buildings and infrastructure issues.

“Most surrounding districts have already done this work,” Holden said.

The combination levy would likely include both a property tax and an income tax, with a millage amount between 6.2-6.8 mills. In discussion during a June 15 special meeting, the board of education will likely meet in the middle of those two figures. The board must finalize its requirements by July 8 to put the issue on the November ballot.

Holden said she believes the district has supporters for the levy but acknowledged that there are resident concerns.

“I think Yellow Springs voters, like all voters in this current environment, feel they are taxed too much, and it’s my job to make sure that when we talk, we talk about facts,” Holden said Tuesday. “If we value education, are we willing to pay for education? It’s important to have those discussions. People in the past paid for where we are today, so what’s our moral and ethical responsibility to continue that. My goal as superintendent is to be super transparent. The district will be an open book.”

The next board meeting will be held at 8 a.m. on June 25 at Mills Lawn Elementary.

By London Bishop

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Reach London Bishop at 937-502-4532 or follow @LBishopFDH on Twitter.

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