AVON - As Avon continues to grow, so will its school system to better accommodate students and maintain operations.
Voters approved two measures on the Nov. 5 general election ballot — a 3.9-mill 10-year additional emergency levy for operations and a 0.98-mill 10-year bond issue to fund renovation and construction projects.
The levy will generate $3.7 million annually and will cost homeowners $136.25 a year per $100,000 home valuation and the bond issue will provide $932,282 annually or about $9.3 million over its 10 years. and cost homeowners $34.30 a year per $100,000 house valuation
As the levy is expected to keep the district from returning to voters to request anymore funding for the next five years to help cover its $46 million annual operating costs (the state chips in 10 percent of that each year), the district will add $17.5 million in improvements. The new construction will include an $11 million performing arts center added onto the high school, the renovation of its kitchen and expansion of its common areas outside of the school.
Superintendent Michael Laub , who has been at the district eight years, said he was grateful the voters had enough confidence in the district to continue supporting the schools.
"It's great news for us," Laub said. of the emergency levy and bond issue passing "We spent a lot of time looking at what the school needs, we took surveys to implement priorities in the district's continuous improvement plan and we provided fact sheets to the community so they would better understand what we were doing. Transparency with your community and trust from them is very important. It takes a lot of teamwork.”
"I couldn't be more excited for our kids," Laub added.
The number of students participating in performing arts activities has increased in recent years, Laub said, and the number of classes coming in from the middle school are getting bigger. The current eighth-grade class there is 399 students, Laub said.
The new performing arts center will be more than double the size of the high school auditorium built more than 20 years ago — 1,600 seats vs. 600 seats.
“We’re finally going to have a facility that matches the talent of the students and we will be able to accommodate the crowds we are having and will have,” Laub said. “Make no mistake about it — we will be forming community partnerships and the performing arts center will be a draw for other groups.”
Laub attributed part of the success to planning for the levy and the bond several months in advance, as the Avon School Board approved near the end of the 2019 school year to place the issues on the Nov. 5 general election ballot.
"That's about the time we started campaigning," Laub said. "We try to make sure we communicate with the community and let them know what we're doing. We run an extremely lean ship. We hope to go beyond the five years we expect to before returning to the voters and requesting any more funds."
No new programs will be added to the district's curriculum with the levy's passage, but the levy will continue to maintain the level of school operations while factoring in growth, school officials said.
Avon Schools ranks in the state's bottom 9% of its 611 districts per pupil funding, about $9,000 per student, according to Laub.
"We continue to grow," Laub added. "As we grow, we need the resources to educate our students. Being underfunded per student means that as we grow, our gap in funding also increases. The way we're funded by the state creates a bad reality, but we want the community to know that we plan on being responsible stewards of their money.”
“We appreciate their continued support and thank them for it,” Laub said.
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