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Coventry pushing ahead with May ballot issue

2/14/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Emily Chesnic

School district trying one more time to obtain funding for new high school, other building renovations

COVENTRY — The Coventry Local School District Board of Education held a special meeting Feb. 13 to decide whether to keep a combined 5.99-mill levy and bond issue on the May 7 Primary/Special Election ballot.

“The decision is to move forward,” Superintendent Russell Chaboudy announced following the meeting that was held primarily in executive session.

Much of the meeting was spent discussing why the combined issue failed and how to address some of the negativity that circulated through the community before the Feb. 5 Special Election was held, he said.

Voters failed to pass the 5.99-mill levy and bond issue Feb. 5, as well as during the Aug. 7 Special Election.

According to the Summit County Board of Elections (BOE), the issue failed by 58 percent Feb. 5 and 53 percent Aug. 7, 2012.

On Feb. 5, before the Special Election results were in, the board held a special meeting and approved placing the same combined issue back on the ballot in May. The BOE’s deadline for issues for the ballot was Feb. 6.

District officials expressed frustration after the issue failed a second time, but ultimately agreed to try a third time to secure state funding to construct a new Coventry High School and rehabilitate the other district school buildings for the sake of the students and staff.

In May 2012, the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) — an independent state agency that helps fund the construction of new schools or renovations to existing ones to improve the education experience — offered the district $11 million toward a $39.3 million construction and renovation project.

To obtain the $11 million being offered by the state, Coventry has until June 30 to approve a combined ballot issue, Chaboudy has explained.

The superintendent said the goal now is to revamp the levy committee in an attempt to gain more community support for the combined issue.

“We are going to rejuvenate the whole committee and just do things a little differently,” he said.

Chaboudy would like to see more parental involvement in the committee and support at the polls May 7.

He said the next levy committee would be scheduled and announced soon.

District officials have said funding is needed to address serious maintenance issues inside the aged and deteriorating school buildings, and voters, especially parents, need to understand just how dilapidated the district facilities have become.

The 1.1-mill permanent improvement levy would provide the district with funds to repair and maintain buildings and grounds, Treasurer Aaron Butts said.

The 34-year bond issue and levy would cost $15.29 a month for someone younger than 65 who owns a home valued at $100,000, Butts said. The cost for someone older than 65 who owns a $100,000 home would be $11.47 per month, he said.

If the issue is approved in May, the money generated would help fund the construction of a ninth- through 12th-grade high school and gymnasium at the site of the current Erwine Intermediate School.

The present high school would be turned into a new elementary school for the district’s kindergarten through fifth-grade students.

As part of the project, Coventry Middle School would receive a new heating and cooling system, windows and roof; additional classrooms; and technology, security and paving upgrades.

The next regular school board meeting will be March 19 at 6 p.m. at Erwine, 1135 Portage Lakes Drive.

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