Reynoldsburg board votes to put bond issue on ballot

The Reynoldsburg school board voted Dec. 6 to place a 4.9-mill permanent improvement levy and bond issue on the March 4 ballot, and filed the issue with the Franklin County Board of Elections.

The issue would raise $56 million for school construction and renovations, including a second high school and seventh elementary school.

Passage is needed to receive another $55 million from the Ohio School Facilities Commission for the projects.

Officials have argued that a second high school and the elementary building, slated to be built on 69 acres at Summit and Refugee roads, are needed to alleviate overcrowding.

Voters rejected a similar bond issue last year.

Assistant Superintendent Stephen Dackin, who will be leading the district starting Jan. 1, said the funding picture has improved since then, but enrollment has not slowed.

The district now has the guarantee from the facilities commission that the state funds will be available with the local match, something that had not been received in 2006, Dackin said.

In the interim, enrollment at the high school has continued to expand. The building has a capacity of 1,300 students but houses 2,200, according to Dackin.

District enrollment is projected to climb through 2014.

The funds would also used for $12.4 million in renovations to the existing high school; $8 million at Baldwin Road Junior High; $3.2 million at French Run Elementary; $5.4 million at Herbert Mills Elementary; $5.2 million at Rose Hill Elementary; and $1.2 million at Taylor Road Elementary.

The projects would be the culmination of an extensive building program, with state assistance, that has included the construction of Waggoner Road junior high and middle schools, and Slate Ridge Elementary, as well as renovations and additions at Hannah Ashton Middle School.

Superintendent Richard Ross has pointed out to the board that, with state funding remaining flat, the district will need to pass an operating levy in the near future.

State funding, which accounts for more than half of the district’s revenue, has stayed flat for the fourth year in a row.

Ross anticipates a budget gap of between $1 million and $1.5 million, and he said the board needs to look at possible budget reductions to close that gap.

An operating levy request could come as early as November, 2008, and will be part of the discussion when two new school board members take office in January, the assistant superintendent said.

Dackin pointed out that the district has not requested additional operating funds since 1997, and has opened three new buildings in that time.

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