The Canal Winchester Times

Groveport Madison schools

Plan details way to fund district's building needs

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The Groveport Madison Board of Education unanimously adopted a $166-million facility segmentation plan March 26 aimed at replacing several school buildings over the next decade.

The 6.18-mill, five-year operating levy and $33.3-million bond issue on the May 6 ballot, if approved, would finance the first phase of a project to use state and local funds to overhaul all of the district's schools.

Administrators have said the package would also stabilize district finances; allow them to reinstate programs that were eliminated as budget-cutting measures, including high school busing; and avert about $3 million in cuts, including 32 jobs, all extracurricular and athletic programs, and art and music programs in elementary and middle schools.

If voters approve, the $33.3 million generated by the May bond issue would cover the local share of building a new high school and would give the district access to $29.6 million from the state through the Ohio School Facilities Commission for the project.

The combined tax request, if approved, would cost property owners about $312 in additional taxes per $100,000 of home valuation.

The facility segmentation plan is a blueprint of the district's building needs; by approving it at a special meeting last week, the board opened a way for the district to leverage state money for future projects, although these will need voter approval as well.

"The idea of the segmentation plan is to spread out the tax load so that there is no significant cost at any one time," Superintendent Bruce Hoover said. "It allows the community to discuss what they want as times and needs change during the construction."

An OSFC report compiled for the district said it would cost nearly $186 million over 10 years to repair existing Groveport Madison buildings; this estimate factors in a 3-percent annual increase in construction costs, including a significant cost for dealing with hazardous materials, primarily asbestos.

"The repair costs don't add additional space, they only bring the buildings back up to code," Hoover said. "So think about that compared to building new facilities for $166 million. To me, there's no return on investment. You'll actually save money building new facilities."

The facility segmentation plan recommended by Hoover includes replacing the current school buildings with six new buildings at an anticipated cost of $77 million in local taxpayer funding and $87 million in state funds. This would result in a new high school, two new middle schools and four new elementary schools.

The district currently has six elementary schools, three middle schools and a high school.

Columbus Dispatch reporter Charlie Boss contributed to this story.

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