City of Ravenna approves funding for new school

Erin Hopkins

Students in the Ravenna City School District can look forward to a new high school, thanks to Ravenna voters. In yesterday’s special election, the combination bond issue and permanent improvements levy for the district was passed by a vote of 2,301 to 1,625.

Faculty, administration and board of education members from Ravenna City Schools gathered last night in the cafeteria of the Portage County Administration Building to await the results.

After Superintendent Tim Calfee announced the outcome, the cafeteria erupted into cheers. Supporters of the levy waved their hands in the air, gave high-fives and hugged each other.

“We’re on the rise, baby! We’re on the rise!” yelled a voice in the crowd.

Calfee expressed happy disbelief as Ravenna supporters congratulated each other.

“I can’t believe it,” he said. “I just can’t believe it. Thank you so much to the people who’ve worked so hard for this to become reality.”

Rick Coe, co-chair of the levy committee and CEO of Portage Community Bank, echoed Calfee’s words.

“The commitment of the volunteers was second to none,” Coe said. “All of the hard work has finally paid the dividends.” This was the fourth time the district had placed the new high school measure on the ballot. Calfee said the district tried in 1990, 1991 and 2000.

“I think what made a difference this time is the money from the state,” Calfee said.

The state will give the Ravenna City School District $13.6 million, which is more than half the cost of the approximately $26 million needed to build the new school. The money will come from the Exceptional Needs Program, which is run by the state and helps districts build or renovate schools.

In order to receive the money, the bond issue had to be passed before June 30.

Stephen Colecchi, co-chair of the levy committee, agreed with Calfee about the state money. But he said it only was part of the reason the levy passed.

“The campaign effort was much more coordinated this time,” Colecchi said.

Phil Starks, coach at Ravenna High School, hopes the new high school will be good for athletics. He said he is glad the levy passed.

“I’m really happy right now,” Starks said. “I have two daughters of my own, and this will be good for them. This school will bring a lot of new kids to the area, and hopefully bring more kids to sports.”

Colecchi summed up the feelings of the majority of Ravenna voters when he said, “We look forward to having a new high school.”

Contact public affairs reporter Erin Hopkins at [email protected]