The Eastwood school board Monday took another step toward seeking voter approval for a new elementary school on the district’s central campus, passing a resolution requesting that the Ohio School Facilities Commission update the project data for fiscal year 2015.
“When we originally did a project resolution it was for fiscal 2014,” said Dave Michel, district treasurer. “This changes it to fiscal year ’15. We are progressing as far as attempting to construct a building on the campus.”
Earlier this month, a facilities task force and business advisory council recommended the district move forward with plans to construct an 80,000-square-foot elementary school on the campus utilizing funds from the OSFC and local revenues.
The building would house kindergarten through the fifth grades.
Under a proposal presented to the Wood County auditor’s office last month, the district would rely on revenue from a tax abatement package with Home Depot, Inc. to largely finance the local share. That agreement calls for Home Depot to pay $675,000 annually to the district for 15 years starting in January of next year. The company is building a warehouse/distribution center in Troy Township.
The Eastwood administration estimates the local share of the project at $12.46 million. The proposal discussed with the auditor includes tapping into the district’s general fund and issuing a new bond to not only help pay for the local share of the new building but also pay down current debt on an addition to the high school. Those payments cost the district about $305,000 annually.
An option under consideration by the school board and administration would include extending the bonds for the high school addition by 21 years. The net effect to Eastwood taxpayers, says Brent Welker, district superintendent, is their property tax millage rates will remain consistent even with a new bond issue that would be in the range of 1.82-1.85 mills.
In a recent newsletter to district residents, Welker says taxpayers, students and teachers would benefit from a new school.
A central campus location for the school would allow the district to utilize personnel more efficiently and save on transportation costs.
Students, he says, will gain the equivalent of 13 additional days of instructional time because shuttles can be eliminated and teachers will be able to collaborate more. There will also be rooms designed for art and music education.
The board is expected to approve a resolution in June or July to ask the auditor to certify a millage amount for the bond issue.
The school board would then need to approve resolution to place the bond issue on the November ballot.
Michel said the board hasn’t made a decision on what to do with the Luckey and Pemberville elementary buildings if a new elementary school is built.
“We do not know at this time what they may be used for and have not made a decision to keep them open in some fashion or close them,” he said.
There is opposition in the community to closing the schools. The Committee to Save Our Elementaries met earlier this month to discuss other options such as renovating the buildings.