The Clermont Northeastern School Board is going back to the voters with a $26.2 million bond issue on Tuesday, May 5. The bond would be for a maximum of 28 years and would cost $163 per year on a home valued at $100,000.
“The bond is going to be less per capita than the last bond issue. It should be $20 to 30 less,” said school board member Mike Freeman.
According to Superintendent Neil Leist, this is the last time the board can ask voters for funding and receive 29 percent of the funding from the state.
"The 29 percent funding is a win-win situation for the community," said Freeman. "We have to compete with other districts which have new facilities and we have not had a new building in 50 years. Twenty-nine percent is equal to about $5 to 6 million. The sooner we can secure that funding, the lower our construction costs will be."
Several years ago, the district formed a committee made up of a cross-section of people from the community who spent two years putting together a plan for the schools.
"We are the last school in the area to receive state funding, we've been waiting a long time for this," said Leist. "We feel that we have to continue to put money into the elementary school and there are drainage and water issues to deal with. The plans are to sell the elementary school, build a new high school and move the middle school into the old high school and the elementary school into the old middle school."
The district owns 120 acres on the current site of the high school. The board has promised the community that the old elementary school would not be demolished.
"The state has not condemned the (elementary) building," said Freeman. "It is an historical building and as long as I'm on the school board I will not budge, ever, to tear down the building. I would like to see it leased to someone in the community and see it maintained as an historical site."
"We are trying to be optimistic about the bond issue," said Leist. "We are going to the voters because we think it is the right thing to do for the school district. If we can get some state funding, it will save the taxpayers money."
"Bottom line," said Freeman, "if we don't upgrade our schools, property values will decrease. We are losing enrollment to other school districts with newer buildings and better facilities. Anybody in the district is invited to attend our board meetings. Myself and other board members will be more than happy to sit down with anybody to discuss this issue. The schools belong to the community, not the school board or the faculty, but the community."
Leist has been recovering from a fall which occurred in January but insisted that he will be going door to door to do as much campaigning as he can for support of the bond issue.
The 5.35 mills bond will be for new construction, improvements, renovations and additions to school facilities and will provide equipment, furnishings and site improvements. It will be on the ballot in Clermont and Brown counties.