Levy, bond issue, or both? Plus, school building repair update

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By Rick Palsgrove
Southeast Editor

The Groveport Madison Board of Education plans to decide at its June 26 meeting whether to place a levy, levy and bond issue, or a bond issue on the November ballot.

“A decision has to be made by the next meeting in order to make it onto the November ballot,” said Groveport Madison Schools Superintendent Garilee Ogden.

Ogden recommended the board place a request on the Nov. 5 ballot to renew the existing, 5-year, 6.68 mill operating levy with no tax increase. She said the district could then consider placing a bond issue on either the May 2020 or November 2020 ballot to obtain funding for potential new buildings.

Before pursuing a bond issue for new schools, Ogden said the district needs to establish an overall plan that includes the look of the buildings, where the building would be, the order the buildings would be built, and where students transition to attend schools while new buildings are constructed.

The current operating levy will expire on Dec. 31, 2019. According to school officials, if the levy is not renewed the district will see deficits of $2.7 million in 2020 and $5.6 million in 2021. Also, if the levy is not renewed, the district’s cash balance by June 2023 will be reduced to $3.4 million.

Ogden has said if the levy is not renewed the “consequences could be severe” with potential cuts and reductions starting in the fall of 2020. What those cuts and reductions would be has not yet been determined.

“We will be as efficient and fiscally responsible as we can be,” said Ogden. “If the levy fails again, it will have drastic impacts on our curriculum and programs.”

To place an issue on the Nov. 5 ballot, the board must file a resolution of necessity to do so by July 7 and a resolution to proceed by Aug. 7. The board must decide if it will place an operating levy by itself on the ballot and wait to place a bond issue on a future ballot; or place a levy and bond issue on the ballot. The board’s next meeting is June 26 at 7 p.m. in the District Service Center, 4400 Marketing Place, Suite B, Groveport.

Repairs to existing school buildings
Groveport Madison Deputy Superintendent Jamie Grube said roofing repairs are being made to the district’s schools where needed.

“We have roof leaks in lots of different places,” said Grube.

He said roof leak repairs have been made so far at Middle School Central and Groveport Elementary.

“Groveport Elementary is not leaking right now,” said Grube. “But we’re assessing to see if the curved metal vents on the roof are still necessary and to see if they could be a source of leaks.”

Grube added the district is obtaining quotes for blacktop and concrete repairs and for painting work.

Grube said building maintenance and repairs, as well as preventative maintenance, have been ongoing and that 98 percent of the specific repair work requests have been completed this year.

“We’re trying to make our current facilities as functional, safe, and as pleasant as possible,” said Grube. “We’re doing our best to maintain what we have.”

Upon hearing Grube’s report about building repairs and the work’s positive impact on the learning environment in the schools, board member Nancy Gillespie said, “I love it – safe, dry, and warm.”

Open classrooms at middle schools

Grube said district officials looked into constructing walls in the open classroom areas of Middle School North and Middle School South, but found the idea to be costly and not feasible.

“If you enclose the rooms by adding walls, because of legal restrictions you must add sprinklers or add fire rated corridors,” said Chris Dumford of VSWC Architects. “Both options are expensive and hard to do.”

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