Athens Community Divided on Issue 3< < Back to
ATHENS — Issue 3 has the Athens community divided. Some want to rebuild schools while others want to prevent the increase of property taxes and go back to the drawing board.
If the levy is passed, new schools will be built for East Elementary, Morrison-Gordon Elementary and Athens High School and the Middle School and Plains Elementary will undergo renovations. The buildings will also hold different grade levels than they do now. Two schools would house pre-K to 3rd grade, one for 4th to 6th grade, one for 7th to 9th grade, and one for 9th to 12th grade.
Some Athens High School students say there are many problems in the high school, like its leaky roof, outdated security technology, cracked tennis courts, and its small cafeteria. Senior Jacob Stocker says the outdated security system and the walls that can easily be torn open are a big concern.
“That’s just asking for some kind of failure and you’re open to any kind of attack honestly,” Stocker said.
Stoker went on to say the structural problems with the school like the lack of windows and thin walls makes it hard to learn.
“If we had a better building our learning experience would be much better,” Stocker said. “Our maintenance works are always working to fix things but the building is just old.”
Senior Kaitlynn Shryock agrees and said even though she is graduating this year she wants a safer building for future students.
“It’s not an easy fix though,” Shyrock said. “You can’t just put up new walls because then you would have to restructure our ventilation system to get the airflow we need.”
For Senior Ethan Haning, more money is needed to fund extracurricular activities as well.
“From my experience, the technology and equipment is super outdated and I think extracurricular can add such a huge amount to someone’s high school career,” Haning said. ” Having a better-constructed building and newer equipment can really improve someone’s high school experience.”
If the levy is passed, it will cost around $86.1 million. The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission is expected to pay roughly $27.5 million of that.
Anne Morrison, an Athens resident whose son goes to East Elementary, says the increases in property tax to pay for the new schools will make living in Athens less affordable for people.
“It just seems that raising people’s housing cost to pay for something that they may or may not want is not going to help the lower income people,” Morrison said. “Lower income people don’t seem as represented in the reports that I’ve seen and the meetings so it may not be what those people want but they’re going to end up having to allocate more of their income towards it.”
Morrison, whose family has attended Athens Schools for generations, says creating “mega schools” will not be beneficial for students.
“If you have a smaller class size anyone is able to live up to their potential and be recognized for their abilities rather than be lost in a sea of two hundred people,” Morrison said. “I think this would really disadvantage the lower income people the most because they are the ones that need help and are more likely to get lost in the shuffle.”
Ultimately, it will be up to the voters to decide on November 6th the fate of Athens City Schools and how much the cost of living could be in Athens.