By Linda Dillman
Canal Winchester Schools’ officials are removing their levy request from the Nov. 8 ballot because they found other funding to renovate and add to the high school that makes the levy request unnecessary.
According to an Aug. 29 press release from Canal Winchester Schools, the district will be able to meet the community’s obligation to the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission for school building upgrades and maintenance without raising taxes and without appearing on the Nov. 8 ballot.
“Due to the efforts of the district’s financial planning team, we were able to consider different options that no longer require the district to seek a 0.5-mill bond issue this fall. We will be able to access $25 million in state OFCC funds without asking for additional taxes from voters,” said Canal Winchester Schools Superintendent James Sotlar.
On Aug. 29, the Canal Winchester Board of Education voted 4-1 to remove the 23 year, 0.5 mill levy from the ballot.
“When we took another look at the whole financial picture, we realized there was another option without asking voters for more money, yet still meeting the requirements of the OFCC,” said Canal Winchester Schools Treasurer Nick Roberts. “This allows the district to move forward with the high school addition and renovation project, taking advantage of the opportunity for the state OFCC to pay 80 percent of the project costs while the remaining 20 percent comes from the general operating fund.”
Instead of asking voters for additional millage that would increase taxes, the district will transfer the 0.5 mills from the general operating fund into a permanent improvement fund that is dedicated to the repairs and construction of school facilities. This will meet the district’s obligation for the construction project through the OFCC and it will not raise taxes for residents.
“We were able to find a way that still met the OFCC mandates,” said Brigid Krueger, Canal Winchester Schools communications liaison. “We are still going forward, but without putting another burden on our taxpayers.”
The funding is part of a plan to qualify for state funds to help pay for an estimated $24 million in renovations and additions to the high school. The state commission would fund 80 percent of the project while the district funds the remainder, which is an estimated $5.5-$6 million.
Sotlar said the high school will see its largest enrollment over the next eight to 10 years and space is needed. In addition, there are 400 new home proposals predicted in the area over the next five years.
“Growth will be an issue for all buildings, and this is the first step in addressing the issue,” Sotlar said.
Proposed high school renovations include HVAC, electrical, plumbing, flooring, roofing, security features and furniture. The addition is approximately 55,000 square feet and includes a new gym, media center, science labs and several classrooms/alternate learning spaces to accommodate future growth.