The Groveport Madison Board of Education voted to place a $113.7 million bond issue on the Nov. 2 ballot.
The 6.7 mill, 38 year bond issue would cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $205 per year in property taxes. For those with a Homestead Exemption, the property taxes would rise $154 per year for a $100,000 home.
The action, taken at the board’s July 28 meeting, was not unanimous as one board member, Bryan Shoemaker, voted against placing the bond issue on the ballot.
"I’m not against having new schools," said Shoemaker. "But this is not the right time to put this on the ballot."
Shoemaker said he has had conversations with citizens who indicated to him they would like to have new schools, but can’t afford to pay for the new buildings.
"I don’t see community support for it (bond issue)," said Shoemaker. "If economic times were different my feelings would be different. We have a long way to go to get the community behind us."
The potential $184.5 million building project would determine the fate of the district’s 10 aging school buildings, which includes two structures – Groveport Elementary and the junior high – on the National Register of Historic Places.
Under the bond issue plan, the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission (OSFC) would fund 43 percent of the costs for new buildings with Groveport Madison paying for 57 percent. The OSFC share, if it is obtained, would be $70.8 million. Groveport Madison’s share of the project would be $113.7 million, which is the amount of the bond issue to be placed on the Nov. 2 ballot. The bond issue includes $19.8 million for items that are not eligible for OSFC funding.
The board is proceeding with the bond issue effort despite being informed that the OSFC state funding will not be available this year.
Groveport Madison Superintendent Scott McKenzie said the OSFC is fully funded for 2011-12 and Groveport Madison "should be in the top handful" of schools eligible for the funding then.
"Times are hard for many families and individuals in our community, so a request for additional money for the schools will cause some to stop and seriously consider whether or not they can afford it," said McKenzie. "I hope they will ask themselves if they can afford not to support the bond issue. This will mean our students will have an up to date learning environment that will prepare them for the 21st century. The time to replace our facilities is now and we hope the community will support this effort to improve our schools."
Other board member viewpoints
•Board member Nancy Gillespie said her own family is suffering hard economic times, but she still supports the bond issue.
"It’s a good investment for the district," said Gillespie. "We desperately need new buildings. I think it’s a good deal."
•Board member Nathan Slonaker said, "This vote is about allowing voters an opportunity to take advantage of OSFC funding to build schools."
•Board member Charlotte Barker stated, "It’s an opportunity to save $70 million. We have to try to get this passed. I wish those who feel this is not the right time would have come to our public meetings."
•Board President Mary Tedrow said the district must act now because, "We’re not sure how long state funding will be available and building costs keep going up."
The bond issue
The proposed bond issue calls for:
•building five new 500 student elementary schools, two new 750 student middle schools, and a new 1,500 student high school;
•demolishing: Asbury, Dunloe, Glendening, Madison, Sedalia, Middle School North, Middle School South, and the high school; (The board would have the final decision on whether any of these buildings are demolished or potentially used for other purposes.);
•repurposing Groveport Elementary and the junior high school for other uses;
•science labs labs at the five new elementary schools;
•a 750 fixed seat auditorium for the high school;
•athletic fields at the middle schools;
•softball fields and tennis courts at the high school, because the existing ones will be displaced if the new high school is built (however, the Cruiser Stadium complex will continue to be used);
•computer technology at eight schools; and
•land purchase and site improvements.
The plan proposes to build the new buildings on existing school sites, except for at Asbury and Madison, which are in floodplains. The district owns property in the northeast portion of its boundaries and could seek to purchase additional land elsewhere for building sites.
Groveport Madison’s schools
•Asbury Elementary, built in 1963 with additions in 1968 and 1969.
•Dunloe Elementary, built in 1967 with additions in 1968 and 1969.
•Glendening Elementary, built in 1968 with an addition in 1974.
•Groveport Elementary, built in 1923 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.
•Madison Elementary, built in 1967 with additions in 1968 and 1969.
•Sedalia Elementary, built in 1969 with an addition in 1974.
•Middle School North, built in 1975.
•Middle School South, built in 1975.
•Junior High, built in stages between 1952-56 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.
•High School, built in stages between 1966-71 with an addition in 1975.