Building options on agenda for M. Plains

Representatives of the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) will meet with Madison-Plains school board members and administrators at 1 p.m. Nov. 5 in the high school auditorium. Superintendent Bernie Hall wants residents in the district to be there, too.

"If we’re going to do this thing, it’s important we get everyone involved from the start," Hall said at the school board’s Oct. 21 meeting.

The superintendent was referring to the district’s research into partnering with the state to fund building projects.

Madison-Plains has two options through OSFC: wait until the district’s turn for state funds comes up in approximately two years or apply for the "exceptional needs" program to possibly move the district up on the state’s priority list. Hall submitted an application for the latter earlier this month.

At the Nov. 5 special meeting, OSFC will explain the process and answer questions.
Both options require Madison-Plains to raise a portion of the construction funds locally, which would be done through a tax levy. The district’s share of the cost depends heavily on enrollment figures, which are down by 10 to 15 students overall compared to last year, Hall said.

Right now, the district’s share of the cost would be 65 percent with the state picking up the other 35 percent. Several years ago, when OSFC did an initial assessment of the district, enrollment was higher and, therefore, the state’s share of the cost was higher, too—47 percent. Despite the change, Hall said a 35 percent discount on new construction is definitely something worth pursuing.

Should Madison-Plains proceed with an OSFC partnership, OSFC would do a new assessment of the district’s facilities. The first time, the agency stated that four of the schools would need to be replaced. There’s a chance the high school would be included in that list in a new assessment, Hall said, mostly due to technology needs.

"We’re getting to the desperation need with our buildings," he said.

Board member Linda Blankenship added, "If you look at all the districts that surround us…everybody is building. Everybody is moving forward, and we’re stuck here."

In Madison County alone, the other three public school districts have completed construction projects with OSFC over the last five years. London City Schools built a new elementary school, added on to the high school, and in Phase II is looking at building a new middle school and making renovations at the high school. Jonathan Alder Local Schools has built a new high school, rebuilt Monroe Elementary, and in Phase II plans to build a new Plain City Elementary. Jefferson Local Schools recently made major additions to Norwood Elementary and added a new middle school at its high school campus.

Hall said the Madison-Plains school board and administrators have not made specific plans as to what the district would construct if an OSFC partnership is forged. That depends on OSFC’s assessment and, more importantly, on district residents’ input, he said.

"It’s up to the community and what they want to support."

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