By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Madison Schools celebrated achievements and shared what challenges lay ahead at the district’s State of the Schools Celebration held March 24 at Groveport Madison High School.
The event included updates about the district by Superintendent Garilee Ogden and
Treasurer Felicia Drummey as well as student performances, a student art show, community and schools displays, and food provided by the Eastland-Fairfield Career Center’s Culinary Arts department.
Drummey updated information regarding the district’s recent efforts to refinance its debt on the new high school.
Originally, the refinancing was to lower the interest cost on the new high school from 4.1 percent to 2.98 percent, which would have been an estimated total cash savings over the remaining term of bonds of $5.3 million, or about $206,790 per year starting in 2023. in 2023.
However, Drummey said she recently learned that some of the projected savings from the high school debt refinancing was eroded with the recent interest rate hikes by the federal government.
“Sadly, the estimated savings has been reduced from $5.3 to $2.7 because the interest rates have gone up from 2.98 percent to 3.50 percent,” said Drummey. “While this is disappointing news, it is still a good opportunity to continue our pursuit to save our taxpayers money. We will continue to be subjected to market fluctuations and interest rate risk until May 25 when we can lock in the rates.”
In other financial news, Drummey said 49.6 percent of the district’s revenues come from state aid and 41.8 percent from local taxes. She said expense can be broken down into two categories: “Where funding goes by object,” which is 43.6 percent to salaries and wages, 28.5 percent to purchased services, and 20.1 percent to employee benefits; and “Where funding goes by function,” which is 64.4 percent to classroom instruction and 31.3 percent to support services.
She said Groveport Madison has the second lowest residential/agricultural tax millage rates out of 16 area public school districts.
“With the 2019 five year operating levy set to expire in 2024, it is necessary to renew the levy so the district can meet its projected expenses,” said Drummey.
Ogden said student overcrowding at the district’s elementaries and middle schools are “nearing a crisis level” as the district’s total enrollment has surpassed 6,200 students.
Residential growth continues to occur within the district. Four of the six elementary schools are operating beyond capacity and all three middle schools are over capacity, according to Ogden.
Ogden said options being considered to address the overcrowding include potentially renovating and/or expanding existing schools, building new schools, or a combination of both. She noted the district is formulating a new Master Facilities Plan which will be completed in a year.
“This is your school district that is here to serve your children,” said Ogden to the crowd at the State of the Schools, adding that the community will have input in the creation of the Master Facilities Plan.
“We promise to be honest and transparent in our decisions and actions,” said Ogden.
•The district is using $29.3 million in federal funding to prepare, prevent, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. See a list of the projects online at gocruisers.org/ESSERFederalStimulusFunds.aspx.
•Groveport, Asbury, and Dunloe elementaries were recognized by the Ohio Department of Education for their integration and implementation of the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports system.
•The district earned a “Moderate – C” ranking on the revised State Report Card for 2020-21.