Ironton residents to face second vote on schools

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Ironton City Schools Board of Education hopes to break the old clich\u00E9 and show that it is really the second time that is the charm.

The board took action Monday evening to put its bond issue and levy before the voters again in a Feb. 7 special election. The bond issue and levy failed by less than 200 votes in the Nov. 8 election.

While there is no change in the amount of money district officials are seeking, they did make a change in the language of the proposal to allow for options regarding the construction of an auditorium.

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The first levy that was on the ballot earlier this month included $6 million for construction of a new auditorium. The levy that will be on the ballot in the special election will not be so specific.

&#8220If a new situation comes up, if the board wants to investigate to see if the old auditorium could be renovated - if it would be fiscally responsible and in the best interest of the students to do so - this is an option,” Superintendent Dean Nance said.

Architect Shawn Walker agreed.

&#8220This gives the board more flexibility to utilize their money to the best advantage of the students. It also gives them flexibility as to how much they spend on an auditorium.”

A local citizens group, the Save Our School (S.O.S.) committee, has asked the school board to explore the possibility of saving and renovating Ironton High School, something school officials have contended is too expensive.

But talks have brought the sides closer together, S.O.S chairman Mark McCown said, in part because the board has indicated that it will make every effort to preserve as much of Ironton High School as possible.

&#8220We are happy they are modifying the

language on ballot,” he said. &#8220That will allow us to continue to talk about the future of the school facilities and won't tie us into a particular plan at this stage.”

One of the options includes an idea proposed by the Ironton Port Authority that focused on finding alternative sites for the new high school and renting the current IHS building out to some other group.

The port authority and the school district are working with Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital about the possibility of acquiring the former River Valley Hospital property.

Normally, it takes two school board meetings to approve language and certify financial matters to place a bond issue and levy on the ballot. But Monday the school board managed to complete the process in just one meeting.

Typically the board requests the amount needed for the project at one board meeting. The matter then gets passed to the Lawrence County Auditor's Office where the proper millage is certified.

The certification is then presented for school board approval at a second board meeting.

But Monday night, with Lawrence County Chief Deputy Auditor Chris Kline in attendance, all the necessary steps were completed in a few minutes.

Nance said the action was necessary to get the proposed bond issue and levy to the Lawrence County Board of Elections by Wednesday, so it can be ready for the February special election.

The board is asking voters to contribute $18 million to a $48.28 million project to construct three new schools to replace the city's five existing buildings.

The original plan called for an elementary and middle school to be built on property adjacent to the existing middle school. The high school would be torn down and a new one built on its site.