Northwood board pushes ahead with new school (7-31-13) PDF Print E-mail
Written by MARIE THOMAS BAIRD, Sentinel Education Editor   
Wednesday, 31 July 2013 10:30
NORTHWOOD - The Northwood School District is moving ahead on plans for a new school building.
At a special meeting Tuesday, the school board took the final vote to put a combined bond issue and earned income tax request on the Nov. 5 ballot. The vote was 4-0. Jeff Dunlap was not at the meeting.
The money raised will be used to build a new PK-12 building.
The district will ask voters to support a 0.25-percent earned income tax and a 4.9-mill property tax to sell bonds.
The income tax would collect $225,876 each year for a continuing time, while the property tax would generate $11.7 million over its 37-year term.
The earned income tax will collect from wage earners, not from senior citizens on pensions.
The property tax will cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $150 each year based on current information. But with the elimination of the state's homestead rollback, it should cost that same homeowner about $170 annually, said Superintendent Greg Clark.
The district wants to "spread this to make it as fair as possible" to all taxpayers, he said.
The monthly cost of the property tax is $14. For that investment from the community, that will put 1,000 students in a new school, Clark stated.
"This is our opportunity."
The estimated cost of the new 130,000-square-foot school is $33.02 million, with the state's Ohio School Facilities Commission paying for $11.55 million, or 35 percent, and Northwood paying the $21.46 million balance.
The income tax, over 37 years, is expected to collect $8.35 million.
The district also will use income from payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements from FedEx and Johnson Controls, which combined comes to $394,000 annually.
The district's plan calls for Olney Elementary, Lark Elementary and the 1939 building now known as Northwood Elementary School to be torn down. Northwood High School would be partially torn down with the common spaces including the gymnasium and auditorium maintained for continued community and student use.
The sports complex at the current high school site also will be kept.
A site for the new school has not been selected, but Clark hopes to have that finalized by the November vote. OSFC would prefer the district have a site with at least 40 acres.
Previously, the state had frowned upon Northwood building a new school on its current campus at the intersection of Lemoyne and Woodville roads. The state considers the site "industrial" and cites its proximity to Interstate 280 to the west, an underground petroleum pipeline to the east and the railroad tracks to the south.
Instead, OSFC had approved the site of Lark Elementary as well as land on Bradner Road.
But Clark said the state has changed its mind, giving Northwood approval to build on its current campus.
To move to either of the other two approved sites, the district would have to purchase property and even pay to extend utility lines.
Still Clark said he "continues to be in close communications with our city leaders on all of these issues."
If the district decides to build on its main campus, it will have to solely fund a site to house students for the duration of construction.
"I made the case that centrally located is better for the school district," Clark explained in his argument with OSFC to allow consideration for the main campus.
"OSFC wants us on another site that is centrally located."
To build on the existing campus, the district could choose to reopen Lark Elementary, which has been shuttered for three or four years. But that school will only house students now at Olney, and it'll be a tight fit, Clark said.
Also, the boiler at Lark is questionable, and it could cost upwards of $300,000 to replace it, money that Clark said he would be hesitant to spend for a building that ultimately would be torn down.
The decision on a new PK-12 building was made after several community meetings were held to get input on needs and priorities as well as to evaluate current facilities, analyze costs and finalize a master plan.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 July 2013 16:11

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