(Posted Oct. 18, 2023)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
The Madison-Plains Local School District is seeking voter approval of a bond issue to build a new school facility to serve students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade and career tech. The building would be located on the district’s current campus at State Route 38 and Linson Road. The issue appears on the Nov. 7 general election ballot.
The school district originally placed the issue on the May 2 election ballot, asking for a 9.9-mill levy that would have cost taxpayers $346 per year per $100,000 of property valuation. The issue failed.
The district has lowered their request to 7.5 mills for the second attempt. If passed, the cost to the taxpayer would be $263 per year per $100,000 of property valuation. The overall cost and scope of the project remains the same.
Two factors made the reduced millage possible. First, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Rural Development, has offered the district a lower government interest rate of 3.625 percent. (In the first ballot attempt, the estimated interest rate on the open market was 5 percent.) Second, the school board voted to commit $7.6 million to the project from current and future local revenues.
The total cost of the project is $68.6 million. The levy would raise $55,360,775 over a maximum period of 37 years. The remaining costs would be covered by the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission ($5.59 million) and the local school district funds ($7.6 million).
In addition to construction of the new building, the project would include removal of the district’s modular units and demolition and abatement of the intermediate building. Funds also would be available for demolition and abatement of the high school, but the district is exploring the possibility of keeping some or all of the high school to use for additional athletic facilities, central office space, maintenance space, storage, and community meeting space.
The ballot issue does not include funding for a stadium project, central office space, transportation/maintenance facilities, or operating expenses.
“We don’t anticipate the need for another operating levy. We anticipate operating costs staying the same or decreasing due to efficiencies and better space configuration (with the new building),” said Madison-Plains Treasurer Todd Mustain.
By constructing one new building, rather than multiple buildings, the district would decrease duplication of spaces, heating/cooling systems, and staff, thereby increasing efficiency and reducing costs, said Superintendent Chad Eisler. Mustain noted that having all staff under one roof would make for better coordination and collaboration.
The building would be designed to have distinct areas and entrances for elementary, middle school, and high school grades so that those populations would stay separated as much as possible throughout the day.
Additionally, the building would have at least two gymnasiums, wide hallways to alleviate congestion, up-to-date laboratory and technical systems to meet 21st century classroom needs, and up-to-date security systems.
The district’s current facilities are aging, school leaders said. Some of the facilities date back to the 1950s. The high school, the newest building on campus, dates back to 1978. The modular units that house the elementary and junior high grades were installed in 2011 and are reaching the end of their useful life. Asbestos makes repairs expensive and disruptive. Parts are hard to find for outdated heating and cooling systems. New roofs, doors, and windows are needed in many cases.
The state and an independent firm evaluated the current facilities and found the cost to repair/remodel them would be 81 percent of the cost to replace them. The district is proposing new construction over renovation because it would provide a completely new facility, more opportunities for student learning, and no disruption in learning as students would keep going to school as they are now while the new school is built. Also, the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission does not co-fund renovation projects that are over 67 percent of the cost to replace.