Eastwood asks for building evaluations
Written by MARIE THOMAS BAIRD Sentinel Education Editor
Tuesday, 17 September 2013 10:36
PEMBERVILLE - The Eastwood School District is inviting back the state commission that helps fund new schools in Ohio.
The school board of Monday approved a resolution to apply for an active planning process with the Ohio School Facilities Commission.
All this resolution does is ask OSFC to come back in and evaluate facilities and hold Eastwood's place in line again if the district decides to adopt a facilities option that includes state money, explained Superintendent Brent Welker.
The district attempted an OSFC project before, to build a consolidated elementary school on the Sugar Ridge Road campus. But the bond issue was defeated in November 2008 and again in November 2009.
At that time, the state would have paid 47 percent of the estimated $18 million cost of the new school.
That share has now slipped to 37 percent, according to Welker.
Eastwood now ranks 357 among the state's 600-plus school districts to qualify for state funding.
"Since we are talking about looking to improve our facilities, we need to keep all of our options open as far as funding is concerned," Welker wrote in a community email.
He stressed that Monday's action was only a formality, and no decision has been made for renovating any of the district's schools or building new.
Instead, the district is considering "what might be a good option to deal with those facilities," Welker said.
Any interest in pursuing OSFC funds will depend on the survey the district will take of residents in late October.
That survey is to get input on how the district would like to spend the tax abatement money from the new Home Depot distribution center in Troy Township. The agreement will give Eastwood $675,000 per year beginning in 2015 and continuing through January 2029. The amount received over that time will be $10,125,000.
"We're really going to wait until the community weighs in on what they want to do with our facilities," Welker stated.
The need to pass the resolution this month is to get on OSFC's assessment list for this year.
"We need to do something with our facilities," said board member Roger Bostdorff at the meeting. The district "just has to come up with the right solution."
Monday's resolution "keeps our options open," he added.
OSFC will conduct a facility assessment, which will include a comprehensive inspection of each building that generates a report indicating the condition of each aspect of the building and whether or not it needs repair, replacement or no action.
When the second levy request failed in 2009, Eastwood became a lapsed district with OSFC. At that time, the local share was 53 percent, or about $10.4 million of the estimated cost of a new elementary.
Eastwood's hope at that time was to consolidate Webster, Luckey and Pemberville elementaries into one building. Eastwood still uses Luckey and Pemberville elementaries, and part of Webster.
OSFC is an independent state agency charged with providing funding, management oversight, and technical assistance to local school districts for construction and renovation of school facilities.
Also at Monday's meeting, the board heard projected revenues and expenses for the 2013-14 school year.
Dave Michel, district treasurer, reported that he is projecting $13.75 million in revenue, up $500,000 from last year; and $14.65 million in expenses, up $130,000 from last year.
The difference is $872,000 and will be covered by the district's cash balance fund, which sits at $8.43 million.
Michel will give his five-year forecast at the board's October meeting.
The board also heard concerns from Jessica Reynolds, who lives in Stony Ridge and has two children ride the bus to school.
She is particularly concerned that her third-grader must cross Maple Street - the main street through town and a direct link to Ohio 20 - to get on the bus. He is one of three elementary students who get on the bus in the town, but the only one who has to cross Maple Street.
"There is a lot of morning traffic on Maple Street," she said, and sees the crossing as a safety issue.
Board member Ted Bowlus asked that the board be given a map with bus stops to help decide if changes can be made.