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Voters approved Issue 8 on March 6
New school buildings are on the way.
On March 6, voters approved Issue 8, a $148 million bond issue in the South-Western City Schools District. According to Franklin County Board of Elections, 62 percent of voters, were in favor of the project.
Issue 8 will generate funds to replace 13 elementary schools, renovate two elementary schools and replace Franklin Heights High School.
“This gives us a great opportunity,” said Superintendent Dr. Bill Wise. “As educational standards become more vigorous, the new facilities will give us the opportunity to thrive.”
The Ohio Schools Facilities Commission offered the district more than $120 million to build new schools. The district had to match the funds, with the no new millage bond issue.
Hugh Garside, treasurer, said the district had retiring debt. This allowed the district to offer the deal to the community with no new millage. The district could keep the tax collection rates at or below 2012 levels.
According to Wise, the replaced and renovated buildings will level the field at the elementary schools by giving all students an updated learning environment.
Wise said, at the elementary level, there is “world of difference” in the technology. The district has elementary schools that were built in the early 1990s. It also has North Franklin, which is the oldest school in the district, built in 1920.
“The new buildings will eliminate those disparities,” said Wise.
Wise also said only 12 out of the 30 schools in the district have air conditioning.
The new buildings would provide current technology and space for all day, every day kindergarten.
The passage of Issue 8 also saves the district $40 million in deferred maintenance costs.
“With the elimination of the deferred maintenance, we will be able to better meet the needs of our students in the remainder of the buildings,” said Wise.
All of the state funds and bond issue funds will be used for new facilities and building renovations. The money will not go toward operating costs or salaries. However, Wise said the bond issue will save money on operating costs as it would reduce the number of school buildings.
“The reduction of a building, and the improved efficiencies associated with replacement buildings, will have a positive impact on our operating funds,” said the superintendent.
The district plans to start construction in 2013. The entire project should take approximately five years to complete.
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