Ironton students worth cost of building faith

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Ironton Board of Education is poised to put an $18 million bond levy back on the ballot. And that's exactly what it should do.

The school board wisely has chosen to repeat the once-failed school bond levy because the board knows a thing or two about the laws of probability, which in simplest terms can illustrate that the number of times you try something, the more likely you are to succeed.

The time clock began ticking earlier this year, when the Ohio School Facilities Commission first tapped Ironton to receive state matching funds for new school buildings. The board has one year - four election shots - to pass a local levy if they want to guarantee exactly the amount of money originally offered will be provided.

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The board's first attempt failed by 185 votes earlier this month, leaving three more attempts for the full amount, the next of which is on February's ballot.

On Saturday, the school board took the first step in a two-step process to get the issue placed back on the ballot. The second, and final step, is expected to be approved at Monday's school board meeting.

And that's the easy part.

The difficult part is in what comes next.

How can the community find common ground?

How can those who oppose the demolition of the grand 1920s high school building find a way to rationalize voting for a levy that under the present plan would most likely destroy that building?

Thursday's special board meeting to hear community input was a good first step. The Ironton Port Authority stepped up in what can only be described as a pure show of community leadership and offered some ideas. Were the ideas offered perfect or complete? No.

Were the proposals a good place to start the conversation and a good way to begin some honest dialog between all parties? Absolutely.

As soon as Monday night's formality of getting the issue back on the ballot is complete, the school board, the administration and all others - including the port authority - need to roll up their sleeves and begin exploring the options proposed.

All of the ideas and options relative to alternative site locations for a new high school and options for ensuring the preservation of the front of the existing structure should be considered.

Ultimately, any bond issue requires a bit of faith on the part of the voters since many of the details regarding what will be built, where it will be built and what it will look like, will not be considered until the money is secured.

Building faith is going to take some time and perhaps even a bit of pride-swallowing, but in the end, the students of this community are more than worth the effort.