POLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – Everyone who pays property taxes in Poland is being given an opportunity to voice their opinions of what should be done with the schools. Should new ones be built? Or should they continue to maintain the buildings currently in place? Today, we talked with Superintendent Craig Hockenberry about the options.

“So that way, we kind of have a list of who’s hosted,” he said.

Hockenberry showed us the names of the 71 people who’ve hosted meetings about what to do with the Poland Schools.

“We actually welcome the opposition. So if this is not what you want, we want to know that now because I don’t want to put it on the ballot,” Hockenberry said.

Hockenberry says Poland needs new schools because its current buildings are old. Last year, $2.3 million was spent maintaining them.

Also, he says a spike in births during COVID-19 now has Poland’s enrollment projected to rapidly increase.

“So we’re going from class sizes or classes of 120 at a grade level. Now they’re getting up to 140, and we’re projecting as high as 165 to 170,” Hockenberry said.

The most expensive plan, called the “blue” plan, is to build three new buildings, one at North Elementary, the middle school site and the high school site. Pre-K will stay at Dobbins and McKinley Elementary will be demolished. The cost would be $100 million over 36 years.

The “white” plan is to build a new PK-12 building at the existing high school site. This one is $95 million over 36 years.

For plans blue and white, the state of Ohio would pay 19 percent.

Then the “red” plan is to keep McKinley Elementary, the middle school and the high school, and to reopen North Elementary. Pre-K will stay at Dobbins. Some additional levy money will be required.

Hockenberry says, in the groups he’s talked with, people who like the white plan are also OK with the blue plan.

“The interesting thing that’s developing is people that like option blue — people that have been at Poland a long time — have been through all the buildings. They love option blue. They can’t stand option white. They can’t visualize it, so it’s becoming quite polarized,” Hockenberry said.

Hockenberry plans to have another 125 small meetings — 250 total. By April, he’ll have a recommendation to the School Board.

If new money is needed, a levy would be placed on next year’s November ballot. At $100 million, it would cost the owner of a house valued at $100,000 an extra $393 a year.