School board will not seek building levy

To the editor:

For the past six years the Oberlin City Schools has researched multiple options for our school facilities. In 2011 the district formed a facilities committee made up of a cross-section of Oberlin citizens willing to volunteer their time to advise the board on what facilities would best serve our district. This facilities committee considered many options from renovating all four of our schools, consolidating to two or three schools, and building a new school. Four years ago, after hosting a series of World Cafe meetings to gather input from the community, the facilities committee recommended that a single campus was the best and most cost-effective solution. In May of 2014, we learned that the state funding that we had been led to expect in two years would not be available for another five to eight years. We considered moving forward, knowing we could use the state money to decrease taxes later.

There are multiple advantages to educating all students in a single campus. Saving at least $1 million a year. Our music, art, gym and Spanish teachers would not have to travel between buildings. High school students could tutor and mentor elementary students, benefiting both. Lowering our greenhouse gas emissions. New buildings and athletic facilities could bring renewed pride to our community.

There are also advantages to maintaining our current four-building configuration. Many people like the fact that children attend schools in different parts of town over the years. Other factors that people have mentioned include the lower initial cost, smaller schools, and retention of long-term jobs.

Many individuals have served on the building facilities committee board and the board greatly appreciates their efforts to help find the best path to providing an excellent education to all students in the Oberlin Public Schools.

However, as a result of much public feedback, the board does not expect to complete the necessary steps to place any initiative on the ballot in 2016. Further, the board does not anticipate that it will take the necessary steps to seek a tax increase, for a new building or any other purpose, in 2016.

Ken Stanley

President, Oberlin board of education