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Published: Wednesday, 4/21/2010

Surveys show splits on casino by Rossford locals, students


While 38 percent of Rossford Village Exempted Schools residents believe the casino being developed over the East Toledo border poses safety concerns for the district, nearly 32 percent say it will have no impact, a recent survey found.

But, in a separate survey of students, 67 percent said they at least somewhat agree the Penn National Gaming Inc. casino is a safety concern for the district. And 66 percent disagreed that the casino will have a negative impact.

Results of those surveys - one of 300 district registered voters and the other of 110 social studies students - were given to the school district's facilities committee last week. Members decided in a vote that was not unanimous to recommend building four schools in the district, including a preschool-through-fifth grade building in downtown Rossford, despite protests from two who wanted to reconsider renovation.

School board member Ken Sutter, also a facilities committee member, said the district is trying to get Penn National to pay for some building costs. The latest estimate for building four schools is $67 million, including demolition and other costs.

"We still are talking with the casino," Mr. Sutter said.

Rossford Mayor Bill Verbosky, Jr., who stressed he was speaking as a resident, told committee members voters are unlikely to support a bond levy if the district tries to centralize all schools on land where Glenwood Elementary sits.

Earlier last week, Rossford City Council passed a resolution to keep the high school and junior high downtown. The facilities committee, however, recommended putting the high school, junior high, and a second elementary at the Glenwood site, along with one elementary downtown.

"I don't think you'll get a levy passed if you put it all in one complex," Mr. Verbosky said.

Rossford Board of Education's finance committee next will consider the four-school building plan and financing for it. Ultimately, the full school board will vote on what facilities plan to put before voters, and district leaders say they hope to have a bond issue on the November ballot.

The goal is to get 0 percent bonds for new buildings and keep annual costs for the average homeowner to $120 to $180 a year, Mr. Sutter said.

Of the voters surveyed in March, nearly 32 percent expected a bond levy in November, while nearly 17 percent expected one next year and nearly 47 percent later. Nearly 40 percent indicated they would support a levy, down from more than 50 percent when a survey was done in 2008, according to Stanford H. Odesky and Associates of Toledo, which conducted the 2008 and 2010 surveys.

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