Group endorses Ironton school levy

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 29, 2005

A group dedicated to saving Ironton High School has called it quits but that doesn’t mean that the Save our School committee has given up on education. In fact, the group will now help lead the push for all new schools.

On behalf of the group, spokesperson Mark McCown formally told the Ironton City Schools Board of Education that the organization has been dissolved and will support the school bond issue and levy that voters will decide upon again in a February special election.

Formed to fight to preserve the historical aspects of Ironton High School, the group lobbied hard against the levy in the November election. That plan was defeated by only 185 votes. Later that month, school board members approved a change in the language for the February ballot that SOS members found more acceptable.

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It took a mixture of commitments by the school board, conversations with officials about the current facility and the additional cost of renovation to the taxpayers led to the endorsement, McCown said in a prepared statement.

“We have always maintained that a levy must be passed to advance the educational opportunities of the children in this community,” Mark McCown said.

“The Ironton Board of Education has taken positive steps to meet the concerns raised by our committee, and given us a commitment to make every effort while maintaining fiscal responsibility to save the front entrance and the auditorium and other items of historical significance in the event the new high school is built at the same location.”

The $18-million bond levy is necessary to provide the local matching funds for $30.28 million in funding from the Ohio School Facilities Commission. The total $48.28 million project would include the construction of three new schools but would require the demolition of the 83-year-old high school, a plan that generated the most opposition.

“I have spoken with Mr. Heald and Mr. McCown since the November election, and the Board and I have addressed the concerns of the SOS Committee,” said Superintendent Dean Nance.

“Likewise, they have listened to our concerns about classroom size, the immediate need to pass a levy, and the fact that we could not leave the current high school as an empty, abandoned building.

I am excited that we all have come together and found a solution that allows us to meet the primary needs of our students and bring the community together.”

School officials believe that new facilities will provide a far better learning environment by incorporating modern technology, providing better heating

and air conditioning and create safety measures such as fire suppression systems, video security monitoring and control of facility access.

But just because the SOS committee is no more, that doesn’t mean McCown’s political lobbying days are over.

“I promised earlier that I would go door to door if the school board proposed a levy that we could endorse,” he said.

“They have given us the commitments that we asked for, exercised good faith in looking at the alternative sites, changed ballot language to give us time to address these issues, and generally allowed the public to have input in the most recent process. I gave a commitment to go door to door, and I will keep that commitment.”