Shawnee schools echo caution before building

By Sam Shriver -

SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — The Shawnee school board and administration discussed the possibility of an additional levy as well as new buildings during an informal work session Monday night.

“In my first year being president I just wanted to make sure that everybody is on board and what other things that we might want to get done … this year, next year, the following year,” said Kenny Gross, Shawnee board president.

Any new building project could still be years away and it all depends on whether the district’s finances can get fixed.

“First you got to fix your checkbook before you start building anything,” Gross said.

Getting voters convinced to support the Shawnee schools is paramount.

“Financing comes first. I think the board’s agreed on that. There are conceptual things that I think need to be well thought out,” said James Kanable, superintendent of Shawnee schools, noting it will be important to get community feedback.

Shawnee’s finances have taken a hit since an additional tax levy failed in November of 2018. That levy was for 10 years at 4.482 mills.

Looking ahead, Shawnee school district voters will be considering a renewal of a 10-year levy which expires in November 2023. The earliest vote on that is November of 2021.

Board members discussed putting together a strategic plan to pass a renewal with an eye for a new levy that would be used for new buildings and the renovation of current buildings.

The board also agreed to form several specific committees including fundraising, business advisory, union relations, community involvement and levy, foundation, technology, and finance.

There was also discussion about potential cuts if the district’s finances get any worse.

“I hate to go into cuts now,” said Clay Balyeat, board member.

In the Jan. 6 meeting, the board heard from three architectural firms about how they might help pass a levy and develop plans for a new building.

The board indicated they would like to hear more from both Garmin Miller and SHP Architects and will invite them to attend the April 21 regular board meeting.

By Sam Shriver

Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.

Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.

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