web page consultants:
|11-06-02: Parkway, Coldwater say yes
|By TIMOTHY COX
The Daily Standard
Cheers rang out in the Mercer County Courthouse from about a dozen
Parkway Local Schools officials and boosters after they learnedTuesday night that voters
overwhelmingly supported a $36 million school construction project.
About 30 minutes later, a contingent of Coldwater Exempted Village
Schools supporters found out that a building issue there passed by a narrow margin.
Parkway officials praised a community-led levy committee for getting
information into the hands of district voters and for creating a unified spirit among the
three towns that make up the district.
"It was a very determined, very energetic group working together
for Parkway," committee Treasurer Charyl Luth said. "We aren't three separate
communities. We are one community that is the school district."
The unofficial vote tally supported Parkway's apparent success in
bringing voters in Willshire and Mendon on board with a plan to consolidate into a single
building in Rockford. Voters in Van Wert County supported the Parkway levy 263-160
although the levy failed by about 30 votes among Mendon and Union Township voters.
Overall, the Parkway issue passed 1,794 to 787.
"I have to thank a wonderful community levy committee,"
Superintendent Doug Karst said. "They didn't concentrate on one area, and I think a
lot of people realized what a great opportunity this was."
Parkway school board member Don Bourelle also praised the citizens
"They've been awesome," Bourelle said. "This is very
exciting; a big step for the district. It shows the people are behind our kids and ready
to go for the future."
Parkway voters approved an 8.8-mill property tax levy that will be used
to pay down the $11.75 million for the local share of the building project. The Ohio
School Facilities Commission (OSFC) is contributing $24 million to the project.
The district plans to build a single-story, 234,000-square-foot building
south of the existing Rockford campus on 45 acres of land the district already has
purchased. The OSFC master plan for Parkway calls for demolition of the three existing
buildings in Willshire, Mendon and Rockford, but school officials are expected to work
with the individual communities on possible transfers of ownership if the towns want the
Coldwater's 6.1-mill levy passed by a 1,388-1,269 margin in Tuesday's
unofficial count. District officials said they were happy the issue passed but hope that
those against it eventually come on board with the project. The district plans to expand
and renovate the existing facilities, adding 47,000-square-feet of new classroom space and
essentially putting all buildings under one roof.
"It was a close election, but we hope that some of the people who
didn't support it come forward and realize the opportunities this will provide,"
Coldwater school board President Jerry Meyer said.
The Coldwater levy will raise the $9.5 million local share of a $30.5
million project. The OSFC is covering the balance of the project.
"The community did a great job of supporting us,"
Superintendent Eric Hoffman said. "What we need to do now is go out and talk to
people and find out what their concerns were for those who voted against it."
Hoffman said he heard a number of rumors in recent days about how the
project would actually proceed. Some of the stories were "bizarre" he said, and
all of them were untrue.
"It's the same plan we've always had," Hoffman said.
Coldwater will host a public reception at 7 p.m. this evening in the
high school commons area.
Both the Parkway and Coldwater levies include a 0.5-mill allocation for
maintenance of the new facilities. Parkway's new building is tentatively slated to open in
the fall of 2006. Coldwater's project will be done in phases and the completion date
SUBSCRIBE TO THE DAILY STANDARD
(419)586-2371, Fax: (419)586-6271
All content copyright 2002
The Standard Printing
P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH