CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – Canfield voters are gathering information on the proposed bond referendum that will appear on the May ballot.
The referendum would build a new school building on 100 acres of farmland southwest of the city. It would cost homeowners about $20 a month for every $100,000 of value.
The district predicts it will generate $107 million over 37 years.
If passed, $85 million will be used to build a new school on the land called Red Gate Farms. The new building will combine two elementary schools and one middle school and have a bus garage.
In addition, about $20 million will go to renovate the high school.
About 10 residents and parents attended an information meeting Tuesday at the Canfield school board offices to get more information on the issue.
Initially, district officials told reporter Megan Lee she couldn’t attend the meeting, even though it was advertised on the district website. They said the board wanted to limit it to community members.
They changed their mind when the WKBN 27 First News news director, who is also a resident and taxpayer of the City of Canfield, informed them he would attend. We did agree not to take a camera inside.
Parents spoke out about their concerns. Alexander Calder said he is trying to prepare himself and other voters for May 3.
“Everyone noticed when they saw the $107 million price tag. That’s commercial development. It’s not cheap to build buildings anymore,” Calder said.
Superintendent Joe Knoll said the board is at a point where they need to decide if they want to build new or continue to make repairs.
“Which basically fixes roofs and does some cosmetic things or is it time to get down to business,” he said.
Parents like Courtney Larson say they want a new building for their children, but they aren’t sure if the school district has enough information to convince them this is the right plan.
“We are all in agreement that our facilities need renovated, improved, rebuilt, but is there a valid and reasonable necessity to build a K-8 campus on the Red Gate property above alternative options?” Larson asked.
Alan Ricks said he’d like to see more background and planning information.
“There are studies that need to be done. I guess I am questioning whether the studies were done before they take it to the voters,” he said.
Information from the City of Canfield shows a wetlands assessment. A 2021 map shows no determined wetlands where they want to build the school.
Larson said she learned there are more studies needed.
“I don’t feel they really dug deeply enough to do their due diligence for the community and the taxpayers for such a large project, with no infrastructure, no environmental studies completed,” she said.
Knoll said there are certain things the district can’t do.
“For schools, right or wrong, it’s just a little bit different. Basically, you get the dollars, you approve the project and then you move forward,” he said.
Many voters, some who support and some who question the entire process, agree they’d like to have more answers before voting in May.