WORTHINGTON - Mayor Mike Kuhle is encouraging voters to support the latest District 518 bond referendum.
A special election is set for Tuesday for the referendum, which asks for $32 million for construction of a new intermediate school for district students in grades 3-5. The board of education has also committed to cover any additional costs for construction of the facility above the stated bond amount by using the district fund balance - a cost most recently estimated at $5.8 million.
This ts the fourth bond referendum being presented to voters in slightly more than two years. A proposal to construct a new high school as well as new athletics facilities failed in November 2016, and additional referendums - one for a new high school, and another for an intermediate school - didn’t pass last year.
“This latest referendum is a sensible and affordable compromise that our community and district should pass,” Kuhle said Friday. “A building that will house an additional 900 students will relieve the overcrowding in the other school buildings. The entire focus of this referendum is education facilities and not athletic facilities.”
Kuhle also expressed the hope that voters will not dwell on past proposals offered by District 518, and ignore some of the polarization within the community that has resulted.
“While we can argue that decisions in the past referendums have not been in our best interest or financially feasible, our community needs to move past focusing on personalities or individuals and focus on the needs of our children's education,” said Kuhle, who was re-elected in November to his second four-year term as mayor.
In elaborating on his advocacy for the referendum, Kuhle also hailed what he believes is the importance of a quality educational system in attracting potential economic development to the city.
“In talking with other communities around the state, a strong school system is essential to economic development,” Kuhle said. “It is one of the top interests of young families and professionals who are considering moving to a community.
“We have a number of our businesses who have new jobs and are trying to attract employees,” he continued. “We have a severe shortage of potential employees to fill these new jobs. The passage of this referendum is essential to our community growth.”
Kuhle also stressed that efforts are ongoing to promote economic development in Worthington, and referenced a failed vote last month on a property rezone that would have resulted in a new daycare, assisted living facility and affordable housing units.
“The city, staff and council members are moving ‘quality of life’ projects forward,” Kuhle said. “This will contribute to a better community in which to live and work. The decisions made in the last couple of weeks have been tough for our community, but they are done and we need to move forward.”