Voters should OK Indian Creek issue

The structure that is now known as Indian Creek High School opened in the early 1950s, and the building that is now Wintersville Elementary School was built in the 1960s. Both have served countless numbers of students and the community well since.

But educational needs and requirements have changed in the years that have passed, technology has advanced and security issues that could not have been imagined when either facility was built have become increasingly important.

Voters in the district have the chance to bring its facilties up to 21st century standards when they cast their ballots in the May 8 primary election. The opportunity is there for them to provide state-of-the-art facilities for their children, improve the educational experience for generations to come and provide a safer learning environment. They are being asked to approve a 6.1-mill bond issue that will allow the district to build two new buildings and renovate an existing building.

We say they should vote yes.

If passed, the bond issue will allow the district to cover the $45 million local portion of the $63 million project. The state, through the exceptional needs program of the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, will contribute $18 million toward the work.

That money will cover the construction of two new buildings — a high school on site of the current high school in Wintersville and a new elementary school at the Bantam Ridge site — as well as $10 million in renovations to the Hills Elementary building — built around 50 years ago — in Mingo Junction.

Those changes will enhance educational opportunities and provide greater security by eliminating the need for pupils to walk outside between the main building and modular classrooms at the high school and Hills Elementary. That’s in addition to making all of the district’s facilities handicap accessible.

If the issue is approved, the changes in the district will be dramatic and will come quickly. It’s anticipated that the new buildings will be ready for the start of the 2021-22 school year. And, while the current high school and Bantam Ridge buildings will be torn down, the district’s middle school in Mingo Junction will not be affected, and Robert Kettlewell Memorial Stadium will remain unchanged.

Baseball and softball fields at the Bantam Ridge site will be lost because of the construction, but district officials have said they will be replaced at another location in the district.

The monthly cost for a district resident who owns property valued at $100,000 will be $17.79 a month. The total for those who qualify for the homestead exemption will be $13.34 a month.

Some district voters have raised questions about the length of the bond issue. Yes, it’s for 37 years, which is a long commitment. Outweighing those concerns are the positives that would come if the issue is passed — improved educational and extracurricular opportunities, a safer school environment, lower maintenance costs, accessibility for all students, the ability to attract and retain the area’s top teachers and enhanced property values for all residents of the district.

For those reasons, the Indian Creek Local School District bond issue should be passed.