Sunday, Jun 24, 2018
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New levy attempt set for Aug. 6 special vote

Bond money needed for building, maintenance

SWANTON — Swanton school officials will again ask voters to pass a 3.9-mill bond issue for a building project and a 0.5-mill continuing maintenance levy.

The school district filed the required paperwork and a special election date of Aug. 6 has been scheduled, Melanie Gilders, director of Fulton County Board of Elections said on Thursday.

Swanton district voters defeated the bond request by a vote of 1,178 to 753 on Tuesday.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed,” school Superintendent Jeff Schlade. “But we’re still optimistic.

“The board feels that it has a responsibility to make decisions that are in the best interest of the district that will put children in the safest environment possible.”

Mr. Schlade said the district’s bond committee will meet soon to discuss how it can better persuade voters that the bond request is needed.

The biggest complaint he’s heard is that many voters felt they weren’t given an opportunity to provide input about the issue.

“I’m very proud of our volunteers’ efforts,” he said. “We just need to figure out how to best get the word out. Unfortunately, there’s never a good time to ask for more taxes.”

The stakes will be higher on Aug. 6, school officials admit.

If voters again reject the bond request, the district will have to forfeit the $23 million that the state has pledged to the district, Mr. Schlade said.

The state funds are contingent on the bond being passed by the August deadline. In order to receive the state funds, taxpayers would have to contribute about $14 million.

School officials say the funding is needed to pay for construction of a much-needed new school building and to pay for significant renovations to other school buildings.

The district could reapply for the funds in the future, but there’s no guarantee the state would approve the funding again. Competition for state dollars is fierce, Mr. Schlade said.

The district earlier this month asked voters to approve a 35-year, $3.9 million bond issue to fund the local share of the building project and a 0.5-mill continuing maintenance levy. The total tax would have cost the owner of a $100,000 appraised home about $135 a year, officials say.

The money would have paid for construction of a prekindergarten through sixth-grade building, which would allow the district to consolidate its four schools down to two buildings, Mr. Schlade said.

Other changes would have included merging seventh and eighth graders into the high school building and demolishing, or selling, two elementary school buildings and the junior high building.

Part of the junior high building was constructed in 1904, the superintendent said.

The proposed changes would save the district “hundreds of thousands of dollars” every year, he said.

Contact Federico Martinez at: or 419-724-6154.

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