Russia School seeks levy approval

Monies will be used for renovations, additions

By Melanie Speicher - [email protected]

RUSSIA — A need for the Russia Local School District and residents of the district can be achieved when registered voters go to the polls on Nov. 8.

The board of education has placed a 6 mill bond issue on the ballot for school renovations and additions, which includes a classroom, community space career tech lab, stage, mulitpurpsoe gymnasium, new varsity gym, and locker rooms, along with associated equipment. The 30-year property tax levy would raise $6,200,000. For each $100 of tax valuation on the property, the owner will pay 60 cents. The tax will be first due in calendar year 2023 if it is approved by voters.

From January 2023 to December 2028, the actual tax rate would go up 3 mill for the six year period, explained Superintendent Steve Rose in a brochure sent to all residents of the school district. From January 2029 to December 2052, the tax rate would come down to a rate slightly higher than what tax payers are paying today as the board of education approved a reduction of the 2000 bond issue by 3 mills if the proposed levy is approved in November.

A house valued at $100,000 will see an additional annual cost of $105 on their property taxes from January 2023 to December 2028. From January 2029 to December 2052, the millage would be decreased. The proposed tax on the $100,000 home would see a reduction in taxes per year of $83.65.

Rose said the community support through fundraising efforts has raised $3 million of the $9 million needed for the project. They have another $200,000 in grants for the project.

“The entire $9 million project will be locally funded,” said Rose. “There’s $3 million in local donations along with the $200,000 in grants. We have offered naming rights for batting cages, the stage and other areas.

“Because of the local donations, we are going to allow community access to the mulitpurpose gymnasium wellness center as well as the weight room. Residents will be able to purchase a key card for $20 per year for access to the facilities. We felt because the community is paying for it, they should get access to it.”

Rose said the process of placing a levy on the ballot has been a three to four year discussion.

“We first talked about adding a multipurpose gymn and weight room,” said Rose. “Then during a community meeting, people said they wanted a stage and that the junior/senior high gym was too small.

“Our shop teacher is also planning to retire so we want to go fulltime with Upper Valley Career Center with a teacher in our building. They told us our shop area would need to be revised to meet UVCC guidelines,” he said.

The community-ledd project will be paid 100% with local funds, he said. There will be no state facilities money used for the project. A c0mmittee composed of the board president, superintendent, athletic director, treasurer, UVCC representative and community representative came together to determine the needs of the district.

Rose said he’s heard many positive comments about the levy and what it will mean to the school district.

“For some people, they say it’s about time we have a stage,” said Rose. “For the farmers, they’re excited about the career center coming here. We haven’t had FFA for many years. For the kids, they’re telling us they’ll stay here and not go to the career center. For the seniors, it’s all about the pickleball court we’ll install.”

Rose said they toured St. Henry Schools which has a pickleball court and Arcanum Schools which has a multi-purpose facility that is open to the public.

“We modeled ours after Arcanum,” said Rose. “The coaches are excied about having a weight room. I’m optimistic that the levy is going to pass.”

Rose said the levy will also provide a special education preschool class at Russia. Students currently attend the preschool at Sidney.

“We have a 30 minute bus each way for the students,” said Rose. “The parents are excited about having the special needs students in Russia.”

Once they complete preschool, he said, the students transition into kindergarten.

“No student leaves the school for special education except the preschool students,” he said.

“The levy is a great opportunity for people to invest in Russia in both the school and community. We think this will help the community grow and attract people to Russia.

There are currently 433 students enrolled in Russia Schools from kindergarten through the 12th grade.
Monies will be used for renovations, additions

By Melanie Speicher

[email protected]

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.