The Press Newspaper
Two area school districts, Woodmore and Eastwood, are on the ballot next month with bond issues that will, if passed, leverage state funding for new buildings.
Voters in the Woodmore School District will decide a 6.97-mill bond levy that would fund the local share of construction costs for a new pre-kindergarten through eighth grade school to be built next to the current elementary school in Woodville.
The total estimated cost of the project is $25.9 million, with the Ohio School Facilities Commission providing about $6.4 million and the district’s share at about $15.6 million. In addition, the district will pay about $3.9 million for additional classrooms and a performing arts center not covered by the OSFC.
Woodmore voters are also being asked to approve an OSFC-required 0.5-mill levy for maintaining the building.
But the school board has decided to not continue collecting on 1-mill of a current permanent improvement levy if the bond issue is approved, leaving a net increase of 6.47 mills.
Board members and the administration say the aging Woodmore Elementary School is in drastic need of a new roof and boiler as well as extensive upgrades to the electrical system. OSFC policies, however, lean in favor of constructing new facilities rather than renovating if the cost estimates for the renovations approach two-thirds of the cost of a new building.
The elementary school was open for a public tour the evening of Oct. 22 and Superintendent Jane Garling is making herself available for additional tours by appointment.
While the pool of OSFC funding drops, the district’s ranking on the list of school systems eligible for the state monies will also drop if the bond issue isn’t approved.
The district’s promotional material for the November ballot issue notes the 19-year bond it issued to fund a new high school building was retired at the end of last year.
District residents and staff members will have an opportunity to voice opinions on interior plans for the building if the bond issue is approved, according to the administration. School officials do plan to house lower grade levels on a different floor or in another wing from the upper elementary and middle school grades.
Eastwood is eligible for $8.5 million from the state and the district plans to construct a new elementary building (kindergarten through the fifth grade) on the central campus if voters approve a 2.64-mill, 38-year bond request. In addition, an OSFC-required 0.75-mill, continuing permanent improvement levy will accompany the bond issue and there will be a separate renewal request for a 2-mill, 5-year permanent improvement levy on the ballot. The bond is projected to generate about $10.24 million.
Eastwood officials have said they won’t need to continue collecting the 2-mill levy, which is actually collecting only on 1.1 mills due to valuation increases, if the bond issue and 0.75-mill accompanying levy are passed.
Earlier this year, the Eastwood school board opted to remove a 3.2-mill bond issue from the May ballot, citing poor economic conditions.
The board has said the district won’t start collecting the bond millage until February, 2012, giving the economy time to recover, but a slow economy also brings the advantage of lower construction bids.
The district plans to offer all-day kindergarten if the issue passes but still projects district-wide operational costs to drop by about $350,000 annually once the new school is up and operating on the campus.
About $90,000 of those savings would come from lower transportation costs and the balance would come from staff reductions.
The Eastwood Levy Committee will hold a forum Oct. 19 at 6 p.m. in the Middle School cafeteria to discuss the proposed bond issue.
How the issue fares may depend on how voters feel about other non-school tax issues on the ballot.
In the Village of Pemberville, voters will decide two requests for additional funding: a 2-mill, 5-year additional levy for police department operations and an 0.25-mill, 5-year levy for parks and recreation programs.
Troy Township voters outside the Village of Luckey will decide a 1-mill, 3-year levy renewal request for the police department.