By Rick Palsgrove
The Groveport Madison Board of Education plans to place a combined operating levy and bond issue on the May 7 ballot.
The board took the first step to do so on Jan. 9 by approving a resolution of necessity.
The proposed 6.10 mill continuing operating levy would not result in higher taxes and, if approved by the voters, would replace the current five year 6.68 mill levy that will expire on Dec. 31, 2019.
Groveport Madison Treasurer John Walsh said, even if this proposed levy passes, the district will still most likely go back to the voters in “four or five years” for additional operating fund monies to keep up with expenses in the future.
The proposed levy will be combined into one ballot issue with a proposed 37-year, $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 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.
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 with the district’s local share being $83.6 million.
According to Walsh, if the bond issue is approved, the estimated increased annual property tax for the owners of the following valued homes would be: $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
After meeting three times in December to discuss future building options, the Groveport Madison Facilities Planning Team – made up of community members, parents, students, and district staff members – recommended building three new pre-K through sixth grade elementary schools and one new middle school for grades seven and eight to the board of education on Jan. 2. The pre-K through sixth grade buildings would hold about 1,067 students each and the middle school would hold about 1,000 students.
The location of where the new schools would be built has not been determined. The district already owns two large sites: a 40 acre site where Glendening Elementary and Middle School South now stand and another 40 acre site where Sedalia Elementary and Middle School North stand. The other existing elementaries and Middle School Central stand on smaller acreage.
The three proposed pre-K through sixth grade buildings would follow a neighborhood school concept and be built in areas around the district so students could attend a school closer to home. The goal is to make the new middle school site as central as possible to meet the district’s bus transportation goals, according to the Facilities Planning Team
“It depends on available property,” said Groveport Madison Superintendent Garilee Ogden during one of the Facilities Planning Team’s December meetings, adding that the board could decide to purchase more property as potential school sites.
“We have to be mindful about purchasing property,” said Ogden.
At one of the Facilities Planning Team’s December meetings, Walsh said it may be difficult to find an appropriate building site in the central area of the district.
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.
The Facilities Planning Team noted that building one middle school instead of multiple middle schools means the district would only have to build one set of athletic facilities for middle school students.
The members of the team also said the proposed building plan would: 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 (the team noted the current schools cannot be retrofitted to meet modern safety needs).
At a Nov. 15 public meeting, 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.”
The board must approve another resolutions on Jan. 23 declaring its ballot intentions and then file with the Franklin County Board of Elections by Feb. 6 to place the combined levy and bond issue on the May 7 ballot.