Community survey shows support for Tallmadge City Schools, but not for new major construction projects

Majority say they wouldn't support bond issue for new elementary and fixing middle school

by Holly Schoenstein | reporter Published:

Tallmadge -- The results of a community survey shows support for the Tallmadge City School District, but at the same time says voters wouldn't pass a levy to build a new elementary school and renovate the existing middle school if asked at this time.

About 300 randomly-selected residents took the survey by phone over a four-day period in February.

The survey touched on various topics from the quality of education the school district provides, to the state of the school facilities, to whether Ohio in general and Tallmadge specifically are "going in the right direction."

Steve Wood, business director for the school district, said administrators weren't surprised by the results of the survey, which is a tool the district is using to gather feedback for its overall strategic planning effort. The school district put its five-year strategic plan in motion in 2011, he said.

"It's a piece of what we're using to kind of decide where the community is," Wood said.

The feedback will help determine whether the school district needs to revise its overall comprehensive plan or step up its effort to explain it in more detail to the community.

The school district paid Fallon Research & Communications Inc. about $10,000 to conduct the survey.

Sixty-one percent of survey respondents said the school district is headed in the right direction, and 78.3 percent gave a favorable answer -- either excellent or good -- when asked to rate the quality of education the school district provides.

When asked how well the school district has done with spending its money derived from taxes in an "effective and responsible manner," 49.9 percent of respondents gave a positive rating.

Regarding the condition of the middle school, which previously was the high school until the new high school opened in 2008, 66.3 percent of respondents said it's a "good facility that needs no major improvements" or an "adequate facility that needs some updating but no rebuilding."

For Munroe Elementary School, 54.9 percent of respondents said that the building is in good or adequate condition, and 40.6 said the same about Dunbar Primary School.

The school district is in line to receive nearly $13 million from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission to renovate the existing middle school and build a new elementary school at the site of the David Bacon building on Strecker Drive. According to Wood, the OFCC should notify the school district next spring whether the money will be disbursed for the funding cycle that begins July of 2015.

School district officials said the money from the OFCC would lower the millage of any school levy the district might put on a future ballot.

Voters turned down a 3.51-mill levy that would've raised $27.5 million over 35 years, the entire cost to build a new elementary school on the property.

The survey also included questions with various scenarios about how the school district would use a new elementary school, a renovated middle school and old elementary school buildings, as well as how the construction would be funded. Questions pertaining to another levy on the ballot within a next year further probed for respondents' opinions.

The survey also touched on the quality of teachers and money spent on athletics.

Contact this reporter at 330-541-9428 or hschoenstein@recordpub.com

Facebook: Holly Schoenstein, Record Publishing Co.

Twitter: @SchoensteinH

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