SALEM, Ohio (WKBN) — Salem City Schools learned last week that it will receive nearly $38 million to build a new pre-K–8 building.

The grant is through the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, and $19.5 million will come from a local share.

Now, the voters will have to make a decision in May.

Three public elementary schools lie within the City of Salem:

  • Buckeye Elementary, for grades kindergarten through second
  • Reilly Elementary, for grades third and fourth
  • Southeast Elementary, for grads fifth and sixth

Now, the school district has a chance to combine all three — with a middle school — in a new building.

Salem superintendent Sean Kirkland said the buildings themselves are aging.

“Reilly is about a hundred years old, that’s our oldest building. Buckeye is somewhere around 80 years old. Southeast, right around 55 years old,” Kirkland said.

As of now, the school district is asking for a bond of 3.48 mills. For a standard home in Salem valued at $100,000, it will cost about $121 per year. For those with a house over 65 years old with the same value, it will be about $91 dollars per year.

The district has 13 months for the bond to pass.

“If it happens to go our way, great. If the community comes out and speaks and say they like their older buildings, then they’ve spoken,” Kirkland said.

If passed, the plan is to build the new school on the farmland directly across from Southeast Elementary. It would take about four years to complete.

“We have parents that travel three different buildings in this district. Maybe even four, depending how big their family is,” Kirkland said.

The plan is to tear down both the Buckeye and Reilly buildings, with plans to still own the property at Reilly because of Sebo Stadium. The district will look to repurpose the Southeast building.

Currently, the middle school is combined with the high school. If the bond passes, seventh and eighth grades will move to the new building.

“We’re starting to get a little tight on space there, with classrooms. So [a new building] will loosen up a bit of the available space for us,” Kirkland said.

In a phone call conversation with Salem Mayor Cyndi Baronzzi-Dickey, she said a new school would help attract residents and businesses to the area.

“Whatever we can do from a school standpoint that helps attract those things, we certainly be willing to partner with and hope she’s right,” Kirkland said.

The issue will appear on the May 2023 ballot.