SWCS moves forward with November levy

The South-Western City School Board of Education voted to approve a $439 million school facilities plan at the June 9 board meeting.

The Ohio Schools Facilities Commission (OSFC) has agreed to fund approximately $206 million of the project cost. That means the local share comes to about $233 million.

The district has combined this with a six-mill operating levy that would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $189 a year. The owner of $150,000 home would pay about $284 annually while the owner of a $200,000 would pay $378. It would cost $473 a year for those owning a $250,000 home.

The bond issue portion of the resolution will be submitted to the Franklin County auditor to set the millage rate, which would then be added to the six-mill operating levy.

According to Treasurer Hugh Garside, a six-mill operating levy will get the district through 2011.

"It is the least amount of millage we need to carry us to where we need to be," said Garside.

The treasurer explained that the district is facing an $8.1 million deficit by the year 2010.

He also stated that it would take a nine-mill operating levy to get a positive cash balance through 2012.

"We are trying to be conscientious to the taxpayers," said Garside.

Superintendent Dr. Bill Wise said the district would like to have more comfort as far as funding goes, but said they will keep it conservative.

"We recognize that this is a difficult time," Wise remarked. "We will look at the lowest dollar amount and make that work."

Garside said if the board had waited until next year to go to the ballot with the operating portion of the levy, funds would not come in until it was near time to make cuts.

"It would have greatly affected the bottom line," he noted.

Garside also said that this levy would not bring back the positions and services lost in 2007, when $13 million was cut from the budget.

The bond issue portion would allow the district to replace 13 elementary schools and complete minor renovations to Buckeye Woods and Darby Woods.

Franklin Woods, Galloway Ridge, Holt Crossing and Park Street intermediate schools would receive minor renovations. Hayes Intermediate would also get minor renovations and a 37,000 square foot addition. Another intermediate school would get an addition but that school has not yet been determined.

The master plan recommends the replacement of four middle schools. Minor renovations would be made at Jackson Middle School.

Franklin Heights High School would be replaced. Grove City and Westland would be in line for major renovations and additions. Minor renovations would be complete at Central Crossing and the Career Academy.

All modular units would be eliminated and space would be set aside for all-day everyday kindergarten. The grade configuration remains as is.

The OSFC would fund roughly 47 percent of the facilities project. If the bond issue is not passed within a year, the state would withdraw the offer. The district could reapply if funding becomes available.

While some residents believe, that with the present economy, this is no time to ask the community for additional money, others say its time to take the state’s deal.

"We need to take it and run with it," said Grove City resident and parent Rick Redfern. "Let’s meet the state with this wonderful offer."

Redfern said he will spend the next several months trying to get the issue passed.

The bond issue millage figures should be returned to the district by the July 14 board of education meeting. Then board members will vote whether to accept the auditor’s rate.

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