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Yellow Springs school board challengers debate school levy

Attendees sit in brown folding chairs six feet apart inside the Mills Lawn elementary school gymnasium, to listen to the five challenger candidates for the Yellow Springs school board speak on a stage Tuesday night. The candidates are vying for three seats, and debated a school levy that would move the location of the school they were all sitting in.
Chris Welter
Attendees listen as the five challengers for three Yellow Springs school board seats debate a controversial school levy in Mills Lawn elementary school Tuesday night. The 0.5 percent tax levy would move the elementary school to where the high school currently sits and combine the two to make one K-12 building.

On Tuesday night, the five challengers for three Yellow Springs school board seats debated a controversial levy at a candidate forum. This 0.5 income tax and 6.5 mil property tax levy would decide the fate of the very school the candidates were debating in.

If it passes, the district will generate about $23 million. They’ll then use the funds to move Mills Lawn elementary school to where the high school currently sits, and combine them to make one K-12 building.

The district would receive a $9 million dollar reimbursement from the state if they build the K-12 school.

The five challengers were split into two teams: those who support the levy and those against it.

Dorothée Bouquet, Luisa Bieri Rios and Pamela Nicodemus are for the levy, saying it’s more cost-effective.

Judith Hempfling and Amy Magnus represented the opposition. Hempfling says repairing the current school won’t be that hard.

“I happen to have a sparking outlet at my house and the electrician came over and he replaced that outlet in about 30 minutes,” Hempfling said. “If we don't need new buildings, then we should not be building new buildings.”

Luisa Bieri Rios responded in support of the levy, receiving applause and woo’s from the audience.

“It is time that we understand that these buildings, the wear and tear of hundreds of children using the toilets, using the water fountains every single day, cannot be compared to a repair that you make in your house,” Rios said. “We need public buildings that must be up to code for the state of Ohio.”

Attendees packed the Mills Lawn gymnasium, submitting over 50 note cards with questions for the candidates. While most of the night was dominated by the school levy issue, candidates also talked about staff retention and ADA accessibility.

Election day is November 2. For more information on where and how to vote, visit the Greene County Board of Elections website.

This story has been revised to reflect the following correction: While commenters did say during the meeting that affordable housing should be included as a factor in all major decision making in the village, Dorothée Bouquet, Luisa Bieri Rios and Pamela Nicodemus did not say they are for the development of housing on the Mills Lawn green space.

Mawa Iqbal is a reporter for WYSO. Before coming to WYSO, she interned at Kansas City PBS's digital magazine, Flatland. There, her reporting focused on higher education and immigrant communities in the Kansas City area. She studied radio journalism at Mizzou, where she also worked for their local NPR-affiliate station as a reporter.