BoE backs out of PK-5 building vote


<p style="text-align: right;">Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune The Oberlin board of education unanimously votes to remove a $16.7 million bond levy from the November ballot.

Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune The Oberlin board of education unanimously votes to remove a $16.7 million bond levy from the November ballot.


Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune The Oberlin board of education unanimously votes to remove a $16.7 million bond levy from the November ballot.

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Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune The Oberlin board of education unanimously votes to remove a $16.7 million bond levy from the November ballot.

A $16.7 million bond issue has been ripped from the November ballot in a late-breaking decision by the Oberlin board of education.

The members unanimously agreed Tuesday after much community input and internal reflection that it intends to postpone any push to finance a new preschool-through-fifth grade building until 2016.

The board voted in June to put a 4.75-mill levy in front of voters this fall to build a new elementary campus near Oberlin High School’s parking lot.

The 52,000-square-foot, two-story building would have cost $166.32 per year for every $100,000 worth of property you own.

“This change in course is difficult,” said a statement provided Monday by superintendent David Hall. “The board fully realized this is a 50-year decision and we must get it right the first time out.”

The driving factors behind the Oberlin board’s decision to postpone the levy was the death of former superintendent John Schroth, who passed away in April due to cancer.

Hall is also still familiarizing himself with the school district and city and the board members thought the vote to move forward was too much to cope with considering what residents have gone through over the past six months.

School board member Barry Richard said the district’s levy committee was marketing and getting information out to teachers and the public about the bond issue and even had people signing up to volunteer to help campaign the new campus.

“Some of the building blocks were in place to go forward in November 2015 but over the course of four to five weeks working on this and myself personally evaluating what we’re doing in such a short period of time and with a new superintendent coming in, I felt deep down in my gut it wasn’t time to do it,” he said.

The board said it got feedback from residents that they were moving too fast and too soon, especially with all the changes happening in the district.

“It seemed rushed,” Richard said. “This is going to affect generations to come. I want to get it right the first time. I don’t want to do it twice.”

Vice president Anne Schaum said the board still has its eyes set on creating a preschool-through-12th grade campus on the Oberlin High School lot.

Richard called the reversal a postponement and said the issue will still eventually go on the ballot.

“I don’t think we had the time to explain the whole vision,” said president Ken Stanley. “We need the time to get the full story out to the community because they deserve that.”

Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.