As a local business owner, and a homeowner in the city of Ashland, I plan to vote “YES” for the bond issue for Ashland City Schools. My wife and I don’t have children, but nonetheless I see this as a critically important issue.
Next Tuesday’s vote is a crossroads. Its outcome has the power to create two dramatically different futures for our city. Let me explain.
My wife and I moved to Ashland 8 years ago. She was a seminary student, and so we rented an apartment, planning to move away when she finished school. But it didn’t take long for us to experience that “special” thing about Ashland. Two years later — before she had even graduated — we were homeowners in Ashland, Ohio. I decided to start my business here, and we’re not going anywhere.
This is a great place to live – and great people live here. But when people consider Ashland “on paper” before experiencing it first-hand, it may not make their short list. As soon as people leave I-71 at exit 186, they see an elementary school building that is in terrible shape. Never mind the quality teachers and the care they have for the children in that building — the first impression is hard to get past.
Today’s Times-Gazette quotes local leaders at Samaritan Hospital and Ashland University who say many of their new employees — doctors, surgeons, professors, etc — choose to live in other cities. Our school facilities play a role in many of those decisions.
The most compelling graphic I saw was a map of Northern Ohio, and all the districts who have built new schools the past decade. There’s a big gap in our area, and it shows why new employees who work in Ashland mistakenly decide to live elsewhere. You can see their graphic by clicking the image to the right.
Even if I think of this as purely a dollars and cents decision, I still vote yes. Why? Because new or improved school facilities results in more people bringing their family to our city. This increases demand on homes, and easily maintains, if not increases property values. The cost per homeowner is estimated at $100-150 per year. And without it, my home value is easily losing that much each year compared to homes in neighboring school districts.
Next Tuesday’s vote is a crossroads. Once it has passed, people will be drawn toward — not repelled from — our city for generations to come. Take it from an outsider who moved here. Once people move to Ashland, they don’t want to leave.
Please join me in voting YES for Ashland City Schools on Tuesday, May 3.
– Jeremy Harrison
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