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River Valley bond issue wins big
Wednesday, November 8, 2000
MARION, Ohio -- Cheers erupted throughout the evening from supporters of the River Valley school district as a $19.6 million bond issue to help rebuild the district cruised to victory.
In final, unofficial returns, the tax won approval with 60 percent of the vote.
The campaign focused on tying state and federal funds to local money to build two new, bigger elementary schools and relocate the high- and middle-school campus from former U.S. Army land contaminated with chemical waste.
School Superintendent Tom Shade last night donned a T-shirt that said, "Opportunity Knocked. River Valley Answered.''
"I am so happy and so excited for the students and the district,'' he said. "We are going to rebuild a school district.''
The battle to pass a bond issue for the 1,700- student district has been tough. Twice in the past year, voters rejected requests to replace the district's three old and overcrowded elementaries.
Yesterday's passage -- spurred by reports of contamination on the high- and middle-school campus -- will help pay for two new elementary schools and also to relocate the high school and middle school.
Some residents have said they believe higher- than-normal leukemia and other possible health problems are the direct result of the schools being built on a former military depot where chemical waste was dumped for years.
However, government and school officials believe the most contaminated areas near the school have been fenced off or restricted and that any health threats are minimal. Air and water monitoring continues.
The federal government has promised $15 million for the new high school and middle school; the state is kicking in another $8.9 million for all the schools.
It could be three years before the new high school and middle school are completed and the 800 students are moved.
Construction of the new elementary schools also is expected to take about three years. Several potential sites are being explored.
In other surrounding counties:
The Chillicothe City School District saw its five-year, $4.5-mill levy defeated,56 to 44 percent. The district also lost issues in May and August. The Zane Trace Local School District also had its third request in a row defeated. Voters decided against renewal of a 0.5 percent income tax, 52 to 48 percent.
Mark Beckenbach contributed to this story.
Copyright © 2000, The Columbus Dispatch