Updated Tue, May 7, 2013 11:06 pm
For the second time in six months, voters in the Trimble Local School District have rejected a proposed 5-mill permanent improvement levy.
The levy failed by a mere 16 votes.
Unofficial results from the Athens County Board of Elections show that 361 people voted for the levy and 377 voted against it.
Trimble Local Schools Superintendent Dr. Kimberly Jones said that she finds the defeat, “worrisome.”
“The board will once again need to consider how to best address those issues that are still facing our district that caused the levy to be put up for this vote,” Jones said.
School Board President Stephen Miller said he was disappointed as a board member and as a citizen in the community.
“I thought the voters would show support for our students in greater numbers and demonstrate an investment in our community's future,” Miller said. “Having said that, the board will continue to work hard to make the best use of available resources to run our school district.”
The levy committee had made a concerted effort this time around to make up for any shortcomings from the last ballot issue in November, which failed 53.3 percent to 46.7 percent.
Board members said they had heard from residents who had said they weren’t clear on what the levy was and why the school needed it.
To address those questions, the committee created a Facebook page, hosted a second community meeting, prepared more yard signs, had a presence in media and also had a YouTube video.
“We tried to be as transparent and informative as we could,” Miller said. “I’m not sure we would have changed any strategy to try to connect with the voters.”
According to reports from the Athens Messenger, school board members have said that the levy was needed to replace the deteriorating roof over the Jacksonville schoolhouse, where the elementary and middle schools are located.
John Valentour, of RVC Architects, has previously said most of the roofs are about 27 years old. The building has more than one roof because of the way it was built out over the campus. Usually a guarantee only lasts for 20 years, he added. It’s estimated it will cost the district between $700,000 to $850,000 to repair the building’s roofs.
The district would have also use the funds for buses, textbooks, and upgrades to the school's security features as well as the district’s heating and cooling systems.
The levy would have generated about $190,000 per year, and the district could have borrowed up to one-half of what it would bring in a 10-year period, which would have been around $950,000. School officials hoped that amount would have covered the expense should the Jacksonville roofs fail.
“We needed a dedicated stream of money to maintain and upgrade our facilities,” Miller said. “Without that dedicated stream, we’ll have to pull from the operations part of the budget. That supports instruction and everything else. But something else has to give. We’ll have to do what we can and the very best we can. Should the roof fail, and we know it will, I just don’t know what we’ll do.”