Reynoldsburg school board Oks state funding, land purchase

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The Reynoldsburg school board on Nov. 6 gave conditional approval to an agreement with the Ohio School Facilities Commission to receive $55 million for new building construction and renovations, contingent on passing a local bond issue in March.

The board also approved a real estate contract for the purchase of 69 acres for a second high school and a seventh elementary school, for $2.9 million, and passed the second of three resolutions needed to get the bond issue on the ballot.

"It’s pretty much a two-for-one deal, with their $55 million" and the $56.3 million  in local matching funds, commented Buildings and Grounds Manager Ron Strussion.

The agreement with the facilities commission was passed at a special meeting because the documents were not ready at the last regular meeting, and the board faced a Nov. 9 deadline for the signing the contract.

Taking no chances, board President Cheryl Max requested that three copies of the agreement be signed and delivered by hand by Superintendent Richard Ross, Treasurer Mitch Biederman and Strussion.

The package, in addition to the new high school and elementary buildings, includes renovations and/or additions to French Run, Herbert Mills and Rose Hill elementary schools and renovations to Taylor Road Elementary, the current high school and Baldwin Road Junior High School.

The district has already completed renovations at Hannah Ashton Middle School and the construction of Slate Ridge Elementary and Waggoner Road Junior High, as part of a facilities plan adopted in 2001 and revised in May of this year.

Ross expects that the millage amount needed to raise the $56.3 million in local funds will be  around 4.99 mills, the same amount voters turned down in 2006.

That dollar amount includes $32.9 million for the local share of construction, an estimated $16 million for athletic facilities, parking and other additions, and a $7.3 million contingency for inflation.

With the board’s vote, the school facilities package will now go to the state Controlling Board for final approval.

Obtaining voter approval will be only the first hurdle in completing the ambitious project, the superintendent noted.

"The timing of this is going to be hugely problematic," he told the board, as the district accommodates students during the renovation process. Money to purchase modular classrooms is included in the agreement.

Ross, who leaves office Dec. 31, anticipates a timeline of two to three years until completion, with the new buildings being finished first.

Those buildings would be located on the property on the east side of Summit Road, and south of Refugee Road in Etna Township, Licking County.

The superintendent anticipates that the district will use all of that acreage, and that part of it could be reserved for a joint project to construct a recreation center, proposed by the YMCA, which he recommended that the board consider.

The board has a Dec. 14 deadline to submit the bond issue to the board of elections, after the county auditor certifies the millage amount.

The board is also considering names of residents to head the levy campaign committee.

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