SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — The message of Apollo Career Center’s May levy attempt will be the same as last time, but the school is getting a little help, including through a phone survey of residents, in determining the best way to get that message out.
“By the end of February we should have a lot of data and information to lead us into strategizing about the campaign and communicating with the public,” Superintendent Judy Wells said.
The school board took the last vote needed Monday evening to get a 1 mill levy on the May ballot. It is the same levy for a renovation and expansion project that 56 percent of voters rejected in November.
The board has hired Support Ohio Schools Research and Education Foundation to analyze election data and help the district figure out how to get more "yes" votes. The cost is $400. Treasurer Greg Bukowksi said a consultant already met with school officials, including looking at the previous levy brochure and materials.
“It is about ways that we can appeal to the voters a little bit more,” he said. “It is still the same message and that is that we need the money and that it is a really great deal for voters.”
The school plans to hire Fallon and Associates to do a phone survey of voters. It will cost between $13,000 and $15,000. School officials will meet with the group today and make final decisions about the survey. Support Ohio Schools will analyze survey results.
Schools officials have done a lot of guessing as to why the levy failed, Wells said. She hopes the survey will provide some better answers and direction for the future.
“I am hoping it will help give me black and white data as to what the community really thinks about what we should do with Apollo Career Center,” she said.
Under the Ohio School Facilities Commission, the state would pay for 67 percent of a project, almost $23 million. That leaves $11.64 million the school needs to come up with.
Apollo will ask for an additional $18.4 million for high school career technical and adult education, which the state will not pay for. The total voter share of the project will be $30 million. The bond is for 30 years. The school is also asking for a 10-year, 0.19 mill permanent-improvement levy. The majority is mandatory for state projects. The requests will all be in one levy issue totalling 1 mill.
Wells said it is important for residents to understand the levy is just as important this time to Apollo’s growth and its role in training viable employees for local business.
“If it was important in November, it still is going to be important in May. If anything, it is going to be more critical,” she said.
The levy will allow the school to add 82,000 additional square feet and connect the adult education and high school buildings. It will address space concerns, technology needs and infrastructure issues in the 36-year-old building.
The high school will see enlarged classrooms, additional science labs, career technology space, a media center addition and lecture hall. Additional space will also come for adult education, including additional welding labs.
Voters in 11 school districts vote on Apollo levies: Ada, Allen East, Bath, Bluffton, Columbus Grove, Elida, Hardin Northern, Perry, Shawnee, Spencerville and Wapakoneta.
The district loses state money for a project after this summer. The only other opportunity would be an August special election. The owner of a $100,000 home will pay $30.62 a year.