By Rick Palsgrove
Voters in the Groveport Madison school district could see a request to renew the district’s operating levy in November 2023 and a possible request for a bond issue in 2024.
The district’s existing five year renewal general operating levy is tentatively scheduled for the November 2024 ballot as that is latest date it can be approved for the district to start collecting money in 2025.
However, the Groveport Madison Board of Education does not want to place an operating levy and bond issue on the same ballot, or even on different ballots in the same year. The board feels it is better to separate the possible ballot issues.
“It’s what the community wants,” said board member Seth Bower of separating the potential levy and bond issue. “We also need to be as transparent as possible.”
Earlier this year, as part of the Master Facilities Plan process, the board approved contracting with SHP Architects for $77,000 for facility planning regarding the potential renovation, expansion, or replacement of the district’s existing elementary and middle schools.
SHP representatives spoke at the board’s Sept. 7 meeting and said the earliest the district could place the renewal of the existing operating levy on the ballot is November 2023 with the potential to go back to voters, if the levy were rejected, in March 2024 or November 2024. They said if the levy were to pass in November 2023 the district could then place a bond issue for new school buildings and/or building improvements on the November 2024 ballot. Under this scenario, work on the district’s Master Facilities Plan could begin in the fall of 2023 and be completed by the spring of 2024 to be ready for Ohio Facilities Construction Commission consideration for state funding by July 2024.
District officials state overcrowding is the central issue facing the district, but other factors to be considered in the facilities planning process include the age, condition, efficiency, adaptability, and cost to maintain the existing elementary and middle schools.
To deal with student overcrowding, the district has 24 modular classrooms in use, including a single quad-classroom unit at Groveport Elementary, two double-classroom units at Asbury Elementary and Dunloe Elementary, and six double-classroom units at Sedalia Elementary.
Groveport Madison Superintendent James Grube said that, if the district staggers the levy and bond issue requests, the Master Facilities Plan process would need to be paused.
“We would have to wait until we are much closer to the ballot,” said Grube. “There’s only so much work we can do because we would be two years out (from the 2024 ballot). We can continue to look at what we can do right now to address crowding.”
Board member Libby Gray said she wants to see district officials get started now on getting community involvement in the facilities planning process and see what the community is willing to support.
“We need to plan ahead,” said Gray. “We need to better explain the process and decision making to the community and have them involved. We’ve got time to get everyone involved and let them see what the proposals could be.”