BG voters will decide on new high school

Taxpayers in the Bowling Green City Schools district are being asked to fund a new high school.

A combined bond issue/income tax request will appear on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Funding for the $70 million project will be split 70% property tax and 30% income tax.

“We’re at the same place we were six years ago when I joined the board,” said board of education President Jill Carr. “We have serious issues with our buildings.”

She said the board and administration spent this past winter setting priorities, and the clear answer was to build new while retaining part of the high school.

A district facilities advisory committee recommended a new high school at a community forum in March. Ninety-five percent of the committee agreed that building a new high school was the way to go.

According to past comments by the district’s financial adviser, a 3.95-mill property tax will be needed to collect $49 million for 30 years, along with the 0.5% income tax for seven years.

David Conley, with Rockmill Financial Consulting, has calculated the property tax would cost $136.39 annually for the owner of a home valued at $100,000. Someone with the district’s median income of $66,215 would pay $331 a year in income tax for seven years.

The income tax would end after that seven years, leaving just the property tax collection.

District residents are currently paying a 0.5% income tax to the district.

District taxpayers also are paying until 2034 property taxes for the bond issue that was passed in 2006 for the construction of the middle school.

The current millage is 2.3 and a taxpayer with a market value home of $100,000 is paying $6.71 per month, according to Treasurer Cathy Schuller.

The high school was built in 1963 and is not handicap friendly and has lacked air conditioning until this year when mini-splits will be installed.

There is one elevator that is not centrally located for use by a student who uses a wheelchair; science rooms are not properly equipped; steam pipes leak; and classrooms are too small to best serve teaching for the future with technology.

Although no footprint of the new facility has been confirmed, it could be built to the west of the existing building.

The information shared throughout past bond issues could help people visualize the need for a new high school, Carr said.

The facilities committee had a split decision of 50-50 among its whether to focus one or two elementaries but agreed that something needed to be done with those schools.

Efforts to pass a bond issue for one consolidated elementary have failed in three attempts since 2017.

Two of those attempts also including funds for a new academic wing, gym and cafeteria at the high school.

The third request, solely for one consolidated elementary, lost by 71 votes in November 2019.

Carr said she hopes giving voters the option a funding just a new and renovated high school will be appealing.

“I certainly hope so. We need to step up our act when it comes to the high school,” she said and added Bowling Green was far behind area schools when it came to that facility.

Eastwood Local Schools joins Bowling Green as the only districts in the county without a new high school.

It was announced in May that if funds are approved in November, there would need to be six to eight months for the design phase. It is expected bids will be awarded in November 2023.

Fanning Howey architects in March gave an estimate of $48.2 million to $58 million to build a new high school. The school board came to a consensus at a special meeting in May that $70 million will be needed, given the new economic pressures.

No architect for the proposed project has been hired.