Mathews schools seek voter support

To construct new K-12 complex

VIENNA — With Mathews High School more than 100 years old and two elementary buildings built in the 1960s, the Mathews Local School District is seeking support from district voters in Fowler and Vienna to construct a new $24.847 million K-12 school complex.

Superintendent Lew Lowery said the complex would have all grades on the same campus at a site midway between Fowler and Vienna.

Lowery said with one school complex the district would no longer have to maintain three separate buildings with Currie Elementary located in Fowler and Mathews High School and Baker Elementary in Vienna.

Lowery said a single campus would allow the district to eliminate bus shuttling among buildings and save $5,000 per year. Less time transporting students would result in more instructional time, he added.

Lowery said the property would have access from both state Route 193 and Cadwallader Sonk Road.

He said the new complex would have the latest security and surveillance cameras at all entrances and hallways and allow for better use of staff and curriculum.

”All of our neighboring districts have new schools. A new facility will put us in a position where we can compete equally with those around us and also allow for modern up-to-date technology in the buildings. This will provide students the same educational benefits as those of our neighboring districts,” he said.

School Treasurer Ryan Jones said the 7.45-mill bond issue would have the 7.45 mills dedicated to the new complex and 0.5 mills for state-mandated, permanent improvements to ensure future maintenance of the complex.

The district needs to raise $20.87 million local funding share, or 84 percent, for construction of the $24.84 million K-12 facility, with the state’s share at $3.975 million, or 16 percent. An additional $3.1 million would be added to the local share to cover the cost of Locally Funded Initiative with the total share at $23.972 million.

Officials said the bonds would be for 37 years.

School officials have shared with residents that a study done three years ago by the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission that the conditions of the three buildings were ranked ”poor” for the high school, which has an original section more than 100 years old and the newest section 58 years old, and Baker and Currie as ”borderline.”

Lowery and Jones said the OSFC is allotting only 96,000 square feet for the building and the district’s LFI covering an additional 4,000 square feet for the complex and cost of running gas, water and sewer lines from King Graves Road to the building.

Officials said the district receiving 16 percent from the state is based on the OSFC eligibility ranking list with Mathews at 84th percentile, which is the local share of 84 percent.

Lowery said the district purchased the former Prestwick Golf Course, which includes 128 acres, for less than $120,000. Plans are to have an outdoor educational land lab for students.

The slogan for the levy campaign is ”Building for Our Future.”

School officials have said the two elementary schools are falling apart, noting that Currie has had recent problems with sewage in drains in the restrooms and students have been given bottled water because they can’t drink the water at the school. Lowery said testing has also been done on drinking water at Currie with concerns of arsenic levels.

Four years ago, voters in the school district turned down a bond issue by just a few hundred votes. Officials said there have been three attempts on the issue.

Lowery said the biggest obstacle he and the levy committee have found is residents saying they can’t afford the bond issue when they own larger properties of 50 acres or more.

Residents at meetings have expressed concerns that the amount they pay for the levy would add up over 52 weeks although the cost to the owner of $100,000 home would be $5.34 per week.

If the levy passes, all three buildings would be torn down. Lowery indicated the administration and school board would review selling the land.

Mathews has 750 students and is bordered by seven other school districts.