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Belpre voters will consider bond issue in 2022

WTAP News @ 5- Belpre School Bond
Published: Dec. 22, 2021 at 6:42 PM EST
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BELPRE, Ohio (WTAP) - The Belpre Board of Education this week approved placing on the May, 2022 ballot a bond issue to replace the existing school buildings with one new, modern structure that will house elementary, middle and high school students.

There are several reasons for the plan. But one issue that doesn’t apply to this school consolidation that has existed with other school systems, is school enrollment. Figures from the state of Ohio indicate Belpre isn’t expected to see a decline in students.

“They look at census data, they look at birth rates and mobility rates,” says Superintendent Jeff Greenley. “They’ve actually projected our enrollment will go up 100-150 students over the next few years.”

But what is an issue is the age of the schools. The Lawton building, located near the high school, is more than 100 years old. Belpre High School was built in the 1950′S. Belpre Elementary School, the newest structure, is nearly 60 years old.

The board decided to put up a $40 million local share, of a $62 million project,” says Lance Erlwein, School system treasurer. “So, for every $100,000 of assessed property value, that would cost the citizens around $300 for that levy.”

The rest would come from the state of Ohio.

Greenley says cost savings is the goal of having one, centrally located building.

”It’s certainly more efficient for school districts like ours to have a smaller footprint, instead of having to maintain two kitchens, two different maintenence and custodial staffs. It’s more efficient for us to consolidate all of our resources under one campus.”

The new structure would be located near the current Belpre High School, and while it would combine elementary and secondary education, it would not mean Pre-K and kindergarden students would mingle with high school seniors.

“We would still maintain two offices and two separate entrances, Greenley says. “There would still be space between two groups of students, but it would all be under one roof.”

The combined building, say Greenley and Erlwein, is the result of a consensus of residents who attended a series of meetings in early fall.

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