The Examiner

Mount Pleasant School District’s $39.6M Bond Easily Approved

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Mount Pleasant School District residents and officials wait for votes to be tallied Tuesday night for the proposed .6 million capital projects bond. The referendum was overwhelmingly approved by voters.
Mount Pleasant School District residents and officials wait for votes to be tallied Tuesday night for the proposed $39.6 million capital projects bond. The referendum was overwhelmingly approved by voters.

After rejecting a referendum in each of the past two years, Mount Pleasant School District residents overwhelmingly approved a $39.6 million capital projects bond Tuesday night.

The final tally was 1,735-967, which included absentee ballots.

“I am incredibly grateful to the community of Mount Pleasant,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Susan Guiney moments after the votes were counted at the Westlake High School gym. “Everyone participated in encouraging people to come out and vote. They provided accurate information and they were very supportive and they showed the confidence they have in our board of education and school district.”

Residents and district officials had expressed increased confidence prior to the vote that there was more support for this infrastructure bond. Voters had defeated larger proposals in November 2014 and March 2015 by wide margins.

Guiney said voter turnout was heavy. More residents voted than for either of the two previous bond proposals.

She said she was surprised that the bond was approved by such a large margin.

“I thought it was going to be closer,” she said. “I guess I was a little worried because of what had happened in the past.”

Guiney credited the entire school community for the support, including the PTAs, the Westlake Athletic Club, the education foundation, the teachers union and residents.

The district will be submitting designs and drawings to the state Education Department shortly, a process that will take about a year to approve. Once the approvals are provided, the work will begin, Guiney said. The goal is to have work completed by 2020.

Most of the renovation will be done during the summer and other times when school is not in session.

Board of Education President Christopher Pinchiaroli said he was grateful to the entire community for supporting the bond.

“It’s a wonderful day for the community of Mount Pleasant. We don’t take our responsibilities lightly,” Pinchiaroli said. “We will watch this money like a hawk and we will spend only what needs to be spent.”

He pointed to increased turnout among elementary school parents and officials being able to convince residents that this bond was a necessity rather than a luxury as the two key factors for this bond’s approval.

A wide array of infrastructure projects will be addressed at Westlake High School and Westlake Middle School with the money, including roof and boiler replacements; new HVAC systems and controls, renovating restrooms and replacing ceilings lighting and flooring, along with a host of other projects.

That campus will also see repaving of the basketball courts, installing a sidewalk on Westlake Drive, replacing concrete walks, replacing tennis courts, repaving asphalt drives and parking lots, replacing catch basins, and providing a new entry drive and parking lot.

Similar infrastructure and HVAC work is also slated for Columbus and Hawthorne elementary schools.

Director of Business Administration Andrew Lennon said there will be three separate 15-year bonds spaced over a period of about 18 years.

“Each time we issue a new debt offering it will be for a specific portion of the project,” Lennon explained. “We can’t borrow it all at once because we need to do it in time with the work being done.”

The bond will begin to be paid off in the 2017-18 budget, he said.

District residents with homes of market values of $500,000 will pay a maximum of $319 to $367 additional a year from 2020 to 2025 depending on whether they are enrolled in one of two STAR programs. During those years, residents eligible for the senior STAR property tax program would pay up to $319 more a year while those in the regular STAR program would pay a maximum of $345 annually. Those not enrolled in either program would pay up to an additional $367 annually.

Payments would decrease by nearly half starting in 2026.


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