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School Board wants to attempt district-wide building plan in one step

Board wants to complete full building plan in one step

by Bob Gaetjens | EDITOR Published: February 13, 2013 12:00 AM
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Streetsboro -- The School Board informally decided Feb. 8 it wants to complete a facilities update for the district in one step.

There were two basic elements of a master plan the Board was considering entering the meeting: The first element is building a new high school which would include the renovation of the current high school as a middle school. The current middle school would then no longer be used as a classroom building. The second element is renovating Campus Elementary School to accommodate kindergarten through third-grade students. Under that portion of the plan, Wait Primary School would be closed.

With those components as goals, Ohio School Facilities Commission Senior Planner Bill Prenosil and Streetsboro Superintendent Dr. Tim Calfee presented three options to the Board: Complete the entire master plan in one step, requiring passage of one bond issue; close the middle school and build the new high school first; or close Wait and do the Campus renovations first. The second two options would both have required passage of two separate bond requests, according to Calfee and Prenosil.

Prenosil said there is "a 90 percent likelihood" the district will qualify this year for funding from the OSFC, which would pay for 35 percent of the cost of the master plan.

"If you don't, you'll certainly get funded next year," he told the Board.

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The Board did not decide when it would place a bond issue on the ballot.

While the total cost of the project is estimated at $66.5 million, the district would have to come up with $29.2 million to complete the plan with no extra options like an auditorium, field house or track.

Raising $29.2 million would require an estimated 3.42 mills, plus an additional half mill the OSFC requires to ensure the facility can continue to be operated. The combined cost for the owner of a $100,000 home would be $124 annually, according to district financial documents.

The rest of the money comes from the state's 35 percent of the project's cost, $23 million, and the district's credit of $13.9 million. The credit has been built up over the past 10 to 12 years as the district has completed necessary projects which also are part of the master plan, according to Prenosil.

Participating in the Expedited Local Partnership Program, which allowed for the accumulation of credit was a good call, said Prenosil.

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"I think your district was really smart in the decisions you made," he told the Board.

Because of the way the state's share is distributed and several other factors, School Board member Andy Lesak said it makes sense to place the entire plan before voters at once rather than in separate pieces.

"If you do it in segments, the first segment is very favorable" because the entire state share in paid out, but "the next segment becomes cost prohibitive because it's all on you," he said.

Additionally, completing one segment at a time prevents the district from realizing savings from other parts of the plan, he said. Some of the anticipated savings come from closing Wait Primary School and the middle school.

If the district builds in two phases, inflation could drive up the cost of the project, said Calfee.

Another factor which is in the district's favor right now is a the district's enrollment projections, said Prenosil. The most recent projects for the high school grades indicate the school should have 657 students in five years.

That compares favorably with the prior projection that 534 students could be at the high school in 10 years of the projection, he said. The OSFC bases the size of the building it will contribute to on enrollment, explained Prenosil. The higher the enrollment estimate, the more square footage the OSFC will help pay for.

"The bottom line is, it will save the district money," said Prenosil.

But the favorable enrollment projection may only save money on the first phase of a two-phase plan. A new enrollment projection study is conducted each fall to calculate what the OSFC will pay for, said Prenosil.

And there's no guarantee the enrollment in Streetsboro will increase at the high school.

"With our 657 number, that's the best enrollment number we've had in the last four or five years," said Calfee.

Lesak said if the Board wants to build a school based on housing 750 students, the "difference would be on us."

The School Board agreed to conduct community forums and a survey in the coming weeks to gauge community sentiment about the plan.

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