MARIETTA - With the Marietta City Schools bond issue soundly defeated by voters Tuesday, the focus for some is already on the next round of the battle to get new schools.
"We'll have to consider how soon we can get it back on the ballot," said Marietta Superintendent Herb Young. "The only reason for it not to pass is that we didn't get the message through to enough people. Once people heard the message, they supported it."
Marietta City Schools Board of Education members said Tuesday night they hadn't talked yet about another go-round with the bond issue but that it's always a possibility.
Marietta Board of Education member Ryan Elliott makes a phone call, at left, while Jack Moberg, Marietta Board of Education president; Jane Crumrine; Marietta City Council member Harley Noland and Marietta Board of Education member Wendy Myers talk about early election results at the Washington County Courthouse in Marietta Tuesday.
"We had a lot of great help with this campaign," said board president Jack Moberg. "If we can't sell the message with that kind of support, I don't know what the answer is. I'm not pleased with the results but this is why we have elections-so the voters can speak."
The 6.54-mill bond issue/tax levy failed with 58.18 percent of voters against and 41.82 in favor of the issue, according to final unofficial results. That was a total of 3,116 "yes" votes and 4,335 "no" votes.
"I'm very surprised and disappointed," Susan Barengo, president of the bond issue committee, said soon after results came in. "Our feel from our phone banks and all the things we did was that we knew it would be close but that people supported this. This was the best opportunity for us to have new schools."
The plan before voters was a $78 million construction project, with about $30 million funded by the Ohio School Facilities Commission. If the issue had passed, construction would have started in the spring on a new elementary school and high school in Marietta and the current high school would have been renovated into a district middle school.
"I really believed in this project," said Barengo. "And not just for what it could do for education but what it could do for the local economy to have new facilities here."
Barengo said she thought a lot of the voters may not have been well informed about the issue.
"I really believe a lot of the voters did not come to our town meetings or call board members or call committee members to try to get information," she said.
Moberg said he was asked few questions by voters over the course of the campaign.
"I have not had a lot of people talk to me one way or the other and maybe that's part of the problem," he said. "If people were opposed they may have been afraid to speak up or ask questions."
Marietta resident Fran Tornes, who voted no on the bond issue Tuesday, said for her the decision was simply about timing.
"I know too many people that can't even afford an extra few dollars a month," she said. "I'd love to do something for the kids but I can't right now. I know some people didn't like the plan and losing the neighborhood schools but for more I think it was about the money."
The upside to the campaign process, regardless of the result, was that there is more awareness now of issues the district faces, whether they be financial, academic or facilities-related, said board member Wendy Myers.
"I'm happy that we had all the discussion and the debate that we did and that this generated interest in our schools," she said. "That's half the battle. And this was a complicated issue so I knew it would be close."
Myers said she could understand how some parents may have voted no, without a full understanding of the benefits the project may have brought to the district.
"We have some great teachers and as a parent I'm very happy with the education my kids get," she said. "There may be those happy who didn't want to rock the boat. It's as a board member that I've become aware of the serious deficits we're going to be facing. We have to do something and I felt this was best for our future economic situation."