By Rick Palsgrove
Voters in the Groveport Madison school district will decide on a combined operating levy and bond issue on May 7.
The proposed 6.10 mill continuing operating levy, if approved by the voters, would replace the current five year 6.68 mill levy that will expire on Dec. 31, 2019.
According to information provided by Groveport Madison Schools officials, if the levy is not approved the district would see deficits of $2.8 million in 2020 and $5.6 million in 2021.
“Without passage, we will not be able to support the level of programs we have today,” said Groveport Madison Superintendent Garilee Ogden during her State of the Schools address at Groveport Madison High School on March 5. “Every decision we make is in the mindset of building trust and respect with our parents, community, area officials, and businesses of the greater Groveport Madison area.”
The proposed levy is combined into one ballot issue with a proposed 37-year, 4.72 mill, $83.6 million bond issue that would generate funds to build three new pre-K through sixth grade elementary schools and one new middle school for grades seven and eight. The pre-K through sixth grade buildings would hold about 1,067 students each and the middle school would hold about 1,000 students. Students in the pre-K through sixth grade buildings would be separated into age appropriate areas.
The bond issue would also provide funds to demolish the existing elementary schools and middle schools. If the plan is approved by voters, it would reduce the number of schools in the district from 10 to five. The locations of where the new schools would be built has not been determined.
If voters approve the bond issue to build the schools, the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission would fund 53 percent of the estimated $148.7 million project and Groveport Madison would fund 47 percent.
The operating levy portion of the combined ballot issue will not raise taxes but, according to Groveport Madison Treasurer John Walsh, the bond issue, if the combined ballot issue is approved, will result in the estimated increased annual property tax for the owners of the following valued homes: $100,000 market value: $164.96; $125,000 market value: $206.20; $150,000 market value: $247.44; $175,000 market value: $288.68; and $200,000 market value: $329.92
District officials state the bond issue is needed to: replace aging school buildings; ease student overcrowding; eliminate the 22 modular classrooms in the district; enable there to be identical academic and other programs in each school; result in less acreage to be maintained; create more overall efficiency; younger students would be separated from older students in the elementaries and buses; and provide for modern safety features (officials noted the current schools cannot be retrofitted to meet modern safety needs).
Ogden said that, in 2012, the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission recommended the district replace all of its schools because the cost to renovate them would exceed the cost of building new. (The high school has already been replaced.)
“To bring the schools up to current standards, the cost to renovate the schools would be $78 million,” said Ogden. “We could renovate them, but we’d still be in old era buildings.”
According to district officials, two-thirds of the district’s students reside north of U.S. Route 33 and one third reside south of that highway.