For the third time voters in the Woodmore School District will decide whether or not they want to fund a bond levy that would be used to construct a new elementary school building.
If approved Tuesday, the 5.43-mill 37-year bond issue would generate $15.7 million for the local share of the project. The Ohio School Facilities Commission would provide a little more than $7 million for construction costs.
The building, which was built in 1923, has been the focus of the district’s attention for the past several years as the board of education and administration allocated money for extensive maintenance and repair projects while advancing the argument the building should be replaced.
Superintendent John Fernbaugh last week said the board recently appropriated $21,000 to repair a wall above the auditorium. Last May, the board approved a contract for $60,782 to repair the roof.
Still, some residents contend the building could have been maintained better throughout its history.
“Why wasn’t the Woodmore school maintained all along?” asks Carl Schuh, in a letter to The Press.
Fernbaugh said the commission estimates it would cost about $12 million to renovate the elementary building, which – due to state regulations - is sufficiently high enough to block the commission from contributing funds for renovating the building.
The superintendent said the state has spent its share of tobacco settlement money that funded the OSFC share of construction costs and is now using funds allocated by the state in the biennium budget to augment district projects. That allocation, he worries, may soon be tapped out because many colleges and universities have wish lists of their own construction projects. Fernbaugh said a committee of parents and others to promote the levy has been receiving “good feedback” from the public but he concedes there are many retirees and soon-to-be retired in the district who feel overwhelmed by taxes.
Terrylee Dembowski, of rural Gibsonburg who’s regularly contributed letters to The Press on the district’s finances and the past ballot issues, notes that even though the state would provide funding for a new school, local school property taxes consume more than two-thirds of his property tax bill.
But in the opinion of school board members and the administration the 89-year-old building isn’t fit for the educational needs of today’s students who live in a world embracing technological advancements.
Four computers in a classroom is equivalent to adding six students in terms of space requirements, a brochure promoting the levy says.
The building’s boiler system is inefficient, Fernbaugh and the board have argued in prior levy promotions, and the building’s electrical system is outdated.
Voters rejected a 6.95-mill bond levy last November and a 6.97-mill issue in 2009.
To compute the cost of additional taxes, the Sandusky County auditor’s office has an estimator on its website. Users need to input the additional millage amount and the market value of their property.