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NORTHWEST PRESS

Your Community Press newspaper serving Colerain Township, Green Township, Groesbeck, Monfort Heights, Pleasant Run, Seven Hills, White Oak

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2015

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BECAUSE COMMUNITY MATTERS

Northwest bond levy lowers taxes, improves high schools Jennie Key jkey@communitypress.com

Northwest Local School District board members and officials know it seems too good to be true, but if voters approve a combination 3.82-mill bond and operating levy Nov. 3, the district gets new buildings and tax payers will see a reduction in their property taxes. This is because the district is allowing a 4.52-mill operating levy to expire Dec. 31. Instead of renewing that operating levy, it ends. The district is asking voters to approve a new, lower levy that means taxes will be reduced if the levy is passed. The new levy, Issue 16, is a combination 1-mill operating levy and a 2.82-mill bond levy. The bond levy would raise $76 million and the operating levy would generate $1.4 million annually. School districts use bonds to borrow money to pay for buildings and facilities. If voters ap-

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT THE LEVY? Have questions about the proposed bond and operating levy? We will try to find the answers for you. Send your Northwest district levy questions to Jennie Key at jkey@communitypress.com.

prove a bond levy, the district issues a bond, which is like a longterm IOU. A bank or a financial institution will sell and administer the bond. The bond is like a loan and taxpayers see an increase in property taxes to pay back lenders or bond holders and the interest on the loan. Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes said if passed, the new bond/operating levy would cost the owner of a house valued at $100,000 about $133.70 annu-

ally in property taxes. David Nurre, assistant director of finance for the Hamilton County Auditor’s Office, said the owner of a $100,000 home has been paying $135.63 under the current 4.52-mill levy, which is expiring regardless of whether the proposed levy passes or fails. of legislative Because changes in House Bill 59, the calculations for new levies are based on a $100,000 market value residential property not receiving any tax credits or exemptions. Superintendent Todd Bowling says if voters pass the proposed bond and operating levy, the district will combine some elementary schools and reduce the number of buildings. All three middle schools and both high schools in the district would be renovated. Bowling said the plan being championed by the board and administration is possible only because the district has taken

care of the buildings over the years. All five board members voted to place the levy on the ballot. Bowling said Bowling the district has invested in renovations at both high schools over the past two summers, installing new gym floors, adding blended learning labs with computers, and renovating the auditoriums at Northwest and Colerain. Bowling said the auditoriums needed renovating, both for the use of students and the public. He pointed out that dance schools, groups and parochial schools rent those spaces. At the high school level, most of the levy renovations are aimed at insuring both buildings are warm, safe, and dry. Bowling said there are electrical issues at Northwest that will be addressed in the renovations if

the levy passes. “I was principal at Northwest, and a new electrical system is needed,” he said. “At a simple pancake breakfast, if you plugged in four or five griddles, you could blow fuses in the hallway. We have to make sure our buildings are up to the increased demand for electricity because of increased technology.” Jim Acton, a Colerain Township resident, complained that the seating areas at athletic facilities and buildings are not all accessible for those with disabilities. Bowling says improving that accessibility is also in the plan. Bowling said plumbing repairs are needed, as are roofs. “If the levy fails, we know we have $9 million to $18 million in roof repairs coming,” he said. “We can’t have schools with buckets in the hallways.” Next up: We get answers to your questions.

Can changing school culture increase safety? Jennie Key jkey@communitypress.com

Trajectory, the path of an object in motion, can be changed by alterations in the environment or circumstance. The trajectory of Mark Barden’s life was changed Dec. 14, 2012, when the biggest fear of most parents, the death of a child, struck home in horrific fashion. All childhood death is tragic, but Barden’s son Daniel’s death at age 7 was a tragedy that touched people all over the world. He, 19 classmates and six educators were murdered in a classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Barden has been admittedly obsessed with trajectory and how to alter it ever since. He told parents at a symposium sponsored by the Northwest Local School District that not a day goes by that he doesn’t think about the day his son died, and what could have interrupted the path of the shooter to prevent him from carrying out his plan. “I run through what happened and I replay the different

opportunities and places where something could have intervened,” he said. “All the way to that day, when he was on the way to the school, he could have been pulled over, gotten a flat tire, had an accident...something that would have stopped the continuum. That’s what we need to do: stop the continuum before it ends in violence and tragedy.” Barden is the director of the Sandy Hook Promise, a national nonprofit group led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012. SHP is focused on preventing gun violence and all violence before it happens through mental health and wellness programs that identify, intervene and help individuals atrisk or socially isolated. Sandy Hook Promise is rolling out a national program, Say Something, to give students skills that can help interrupt the trajectory of tragedies like Sandy Hook with a simple plan: The message is easy for students to remember. Three

JENNIE KEY/THE COMMUNITY PRESS

A group of students at Pleasant Run Middle School have committed to make the environment and culture safe emotionally and physically by working to include all students and avoid social isolation. Programs such as No One Eats Alone encourage students to sit with others and share conversation in the cafeteria.

steps: 1. Look for warning signs, signals or threats. 2. Act immediately. Take it seriously. 3. Say something to a trusted adult. Pleasant Run students will participate in Sandy Hook’s “Say Something” program during National Say Something Week Oct. 19-23. According to SHP’s literature, research shows that in

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seven out of 10 acts of gun violence, friends were told that an act of violence would be committed or might take place. It was reported that in four out of five school shootings, the attacker had told someone his plans ahead of time. But no one took action to prevent the plans. “Say Something,” an awareness program, tells teachers and students who to recognize signs of a potential threat, how to teach and instill in participants how to

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take action, and how to communicate the threat to others. Say Something hopes to help schools build a culture of awareness and help students understand what to look for on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat and other apps that could be indicators that someone is considering harming themselves or someone else. See SAFETY, Page 2A

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