Chardon school officials will be back to the drawing board as voters turned down a 5.3-mill, $76 million bond issue Tuesday.

According to unofficial results from the Geauga County Board of Elections, the issue, listed as Issue 21 on the ballot, received 3,514 votes in favor and 4,548 against.

Superintendent Michael Hanlon said the district may be down, but not out.

“We are obviously disappointed that Issue 22 was not approved by our voters, but we are committed to ensuring our schools can provide the educational opportunities our community’s children need for future success,” Dr. Hanlon said. “Our volunteers worked tirelessly to communicate the key message that this bond issue was critical in order to provide our students and the community the school facilities to provide effective teaching and learning for all students.”

The issue had offered hope of constructing a new sixth through 12th grade school building on the current grounds of the high school. School officials had noted the benefits and cost savings of eliminating the need for land acquisition and avoiding displacing students during the construction by not having to spend for temporary classroom trailers. State officials that had evaluated the district’s buildings recommended that the district build new, rather than rehabilitate existing ones, showing the cost to rehabilitate would approach about two-thirds of the cost to build new.

Dr. Hanlon said volunteers deserved thanks for their efforts to win over voters.

“We are thankful to all the volunteers that made phone calls, walked door-to-door, and organized activities to help spread the message about the importance of Issue 21,” he said.

“On behalf of our board of education, I wish to extend appreciation to the citizens for Chardon schools and our supporters for their continued commitment to our school district,” Dr. Hanlon added. “Their efforts over the past few months were considerable in helping our community understand the conditions in which our staff teach and our students learn. Thank you also to our facilities advisory committee that worked diligently over the past two and one-half years to learn about the challenges of our current school facilities and carefully evaluate master plan options before making a recommendation to our board of education.”

Dr. Hanlon said the defeat means the district will go back to work, because the district has no choice but to find a solution to the aging buildings the district is working with.

“In the next few weeks our facilities advisory committee will meet again to review the results and determine if any modifications to the overall master plan for district facilities are warranted based on the election results,” Dr. Hanlon said. “Their recommendation will be presented to the board of education as they consider options related to a subsequent bond issue request.”

He said the board of education will make the decision on which direction the district now goes.

Board of Education President Madelon Horvath said the issues staff and students continue to face in the aging school buildings remain.

“It is important to understand that our facilities’ issues have not gone away as a result of the failure of Issue 21,” Mrs. Horvath said. “We are still in a position of needing to identify significant financial resources to address our aging school facilities. The fact of the matter is that the need persists. Our facilities are failing our children. We have to come together as a community for their sake and the sake of our long-term viability.”

Joseph Koziol Jr. started his career in journalism in 1981. He joined the Solon Times in 1992 and covered the city of Solon for 10 years. An award winning reporter, Mr. Koziol has been covering Geauga County since 2012.

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