Passionate speakers addressed the community and the school board at Thursday night's special session meeting at North Clay Middle School.
More than 60 community members were in the audience, and all seven board members were present.
The three-and-one-half hour meeting began with a process overview from corporation building director Tom Reberger before Tom Neff gave the architectural presentation.
Neff, from Schmidt and Associates, presented the same information that was given at the special session held last Thursday at Clay City Jr./Sr. High School. Financial Advisor Damien Maggos also gave the same presentation.
Comments began with Jackson Township Elementary School Principal Jeff Fritz. Fritz again spoke on the improvements made to the school, and how that has affected his staff and students.
Second to the podium was Marie Moore of Brazil, who presented a letter from District 37 State Senator Richard Bray discouraging the practice of selling bonds immediately after paying off a previous bond.
Bray, through the letter, asks the community to take concerns to the local school board.
Moore's husband, Walt, followed her to the podium. Walt Moore expressed concern over the financing of the project and did not question the needs of the schools expressed in the presentation.
His concerns were echoed multiple times throughout the 29 community members who spoke.
Another concerned repeated throughout the evening was the tendency of Clay Community Schools to delay projects until they are more expensive than the original idea.
Doug Disney, a father of five kids going through the schools currently, said that if the school board did not act immediately on these plans, it would be "negligence."
Principals from Jackson Township, Eastside, Forest Park, and Meridian Elementary Schools, Northview High School, and North Clay Middle School all spoke about the necessity of improvements.
Don Miller, who has served on the school board, suggested the full utilization of the Capital Projects Fund. Miller also questioned the ability of the community to "tie itself to a 20-year bond."
Jim Brannan, Leo Southworth, and Jack Knust were some of the people who spoke at both special sessions, all voicing concern over the financing of the project.
Joe Thomas asked the board to consider two words when making decisions about the project: phasing and remonstrance.
A remonstrance is a formal statement of grievances.
There was an audible reaction to statements made by Federal Correctional Officer Mark Secrest. The parent of two Meridian Elementary students, Secrest questioned the current security of the building with 35 known sex-offenders in the area.
Many speakers thanked the grounds and maintenance crews for their efforts for keeping the facilities in as good of shape as possible with the money allotted.
Director of Transportation Frank Misner explained the condition of the bus depot further, but also added that, when there are priorities, the schools need to be fixed first.
Misner was given a loud applause when he stated that, although the facilities are not up to standards, the corporation has gone 13 years without a single bus failing inspection.
Alternatives to the one-time, $53 million bond that were suggested included raising taxes by a smaller amount after the current bonds are paid, and having that money put into the Capital Projects Fund (CPF), phasing out the bonds, and finding another location for the bus depot.
After the community members finished speaking, the school board addressed the crowd.
"I have three questions; what do we need, what can we afford and how do we pay for it, and what will the community support?" Steve Grigsby said.
Dottie King said there is wisdom in age and wisdom in education, and when making a decision, it's important for her to combine the two.
Len Fischer said that the decision to go forward or not is "a matter of debt, CPF, and time."
Jim Guy equated a building to a teaching tool, and those in other professions will purchase tools to make their job easier and faster.
Brian Atkinson repeated a concern that industry will overlook Clay County if the schools are not adequate.
The evening closed with Terry Barr thanking everyone for coming, and expressing that the board has not made a final decision and will be considering all concerns when making their decision.