Indian Creek Local School District residents are facing a big decision when they head to the polls on Nov. 6.
They are being asked to approve a 4.95-mill levy that will provide money to build a new high school and upgrade the district's existing facilities. We believe the issue deserves a "yes" vote.
The proposal includes a 3.5-mill bond issue that would raise about $16.3 million for construction of a new district high school on the grounds of the present high school and an additional 1.45-mill, five-year operating levy for district operations
Indian Creek is in line to receive approximately $8 million in money from the Ohio Schools Facility Commission's Exceptional Needs Program to use toward the approximately $24 million high school project.
Money that will be used to allow the district to maintain programs, staffing levels and daily operations - about $475,000 annually - will be generated by a 1.45-mill, five-year operating levy portion. That works out to a monthly cost of $12.63 to the owner of a home valued at $100,000. Those eligible for the Homestead Exemption would pay $9.47 a month.
It has been said before, but it is time for a new high school in the district. The current school was built in 1947, with additions made in 1953, 1956 and 1971. While the age and condition of the building are factors, the biggest problem facing district officials is a lack of space. It's important to note that the Indian Creek district serves about 2,400 pupils and students in Mingo Junction, Wintersville, Bloomingdale, Unionport and Steubenville's 6th Ward.
In addition to the main school building, classes are being taught in 12 modular classrooms, which are more than 20 years old.
That setup presents big problems for students and educators. Since students must be able to move between the main building and the modular classrooms, it is impossible to limit access to the buildings, which poses a safety risk. Also, the school's age makes it difficult for district officials to provide the technology to meet today's educational needs. Power to run computers and access to the Internet are critical components in today's classrooms, demands that were never imagined when the current school was built.
It is vital that the district obtain the money that will be generated by passage of this issue.
First, the $8 million in state money that will go toward the new high school is guaranteed now. The availability of that money in the future is not certain. Second, the operating money is needed to help offset the loss of $1.3 million in state education money that was supported by federal stimulus money, and the loss of tangible personal property tax reimbursements during the next two years.
Indian Creek voters in 2008 approved money for the construction of a new middle school in Mingo Junction. That building is expected to be ready for students in January. Again, it doesn't make sense for pupils to attend junior high school in a modern building and then head to high school in an outdated facility.
Also, a new school would make the Indian Creek school district a more attractive option to people who move into our area. That's important for continued growth, and even more critical when you look around our region. A new high school has been built in Wellsville. Work is under way on a new high school in Toronto. Renovations to Steubenville High School have improved that facility, and work is under way to build a new elementary school in Weirton.
Research by district officials shows that Indian Creek residents remain proud of the educational program their schools provide and that they desire technologically updated facilities. They also agree that strong schools make strong communities.
Residents can ensure their schools remain strong by voting "yes."