Westlake Schools Seek to Consolidate Elementary Buildings

Westlake Schools logoThe Westlake City School District will be on the Nov. 8 ballot with a bond issue and permanent improvement levy that won’t raise taxes, but will seek to consolidate the district’s elementary schools at one site.

The 1.3-mill bond issue and 0.8-mill permanent improvement levy will fund a new, centrally located PK-4 elementary school to replace the district’s four aging elementary schools. It will also create a separate maintenance fund for capital expenses to help protect the public’s investment in the facilities.

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Westlake High School, new in 2013, may be joined by a PK-4 Campus if a ballot issues passes this November that will allow the consolidation of the district’s elementary schools.

Westlake Schools have not yet released a site for the PK-4 campus, saying it is premature. According to a source, “We have a tentative agreement in place with the City of Westlake, but it is not final, so we can’t really comment on it. We have several options that we are weighing at this time, but no decision on a location has been made at this time.” Plans for the existing Hilliard, Holly Lane, Dover and Bassett Schools were also not released.

“Refinancing and sound financial practices have resulted in the expiration of some of the district’s current debt,” report Westlake Schools. This unique scenario allows the district to pursue a 2.1-mill combined issue to complete the final phase of its building plan, and not raise taxes.

After years of study, Westlake Schools report a citizens committee concluded that it was no longer fiscally prudent to renovate or retrofit the deteriorating elementary facilities. The facilities are all 49 to 67 years old, and have antiquated boilers, failing electrical systems that cannot handle modern technology needs, and inefficient and crumbling windows, doors and brick exteriors. The buildings also lack modern safety and security mechanisms.

“We are thrilled to have this opportunity to ensure all of Westlake’s students are in modern spaces equipped to meet today’s educational standards,” says Board President Carol Winter. “We heard the community loud and clear, and we as a Board committed ourselves to balancing district needs while not raising taxes.”

The combined issue will also allow the district to free up operating dollars. One building will be less expensive to operate, and instead of funds going to Band-Aid repairs on the deteriorating elementary school facilities, funds can be directed toward students in the classroom.

“This combined issue is good educationally and financially. One building will strengthen education by ensuring that all Westlake elementary students receive the same curriculum. Teachers will be able to better coordinate and collaborate, and students will now have access to support services every day,” says Superintendent Scott Goggin. “It moves our district forward, saves money and won’t raise taxes.”

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