The second time could be the charm for Liberty-Benton Schools. It has been five years since voters rejected a levy that would have built a new school for kindergarten through eighth grade. Now officials are asking for the public's support one more time.
One of the problems with the current middle school is the lack of space. A group of 21 first-graders are crammed into a small classroom.
"My room doesn't allow me to do the hands-on activity I like to do with kids," said first-grade teacher Jessica Williams.
That is one reason why Liberty-Benton school officials are thinking about putting a 6.5 mill levy on November's ballot. The money would pay for a new K-8 school to be built right next to the high school. The current building dates back to the 1920s.
"With the need for growth and technology, the need for wiring and other aspects, which are much more the current issues with education, the building itself is very difficult to comply," said Superintendent Jason Kanable.
A new school would cost around $35 million, but the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission would pay 45 percent, leaving taxpayers to pay the remaining 55 percent, or $20 million. While that may seem like a steep bill, the superintendent says money from the OFCC has been shrinking, and it is time to take advantage of the funds.
"We were at 50/50, now we're 45/55 split, and it's not going in our favor. So it may be the appropriate time to at least try again for the building," said Kanable.
School officials have been surveying the public about the plans and say support has been positive. Williams says with a little more space she could be more interactive with her first-graders.
"I would be able to set up different activities for kids to do and be even more student-lead than it already is," said Williams.
The results of the survey will be announced at the next board of education meeting. No decision has been made at this point. However, if school officials feel there is enough public support, they will put a levy on the November ballot.
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