South-Western City School Board officials may ask for two bond issues in 2009 to secure the local share of funds for the $468-million facilities upgrade the district is seeking.

South-Western City School Board officials may ask for two bond issues in 2009 to secure the local share of funds for the $468-million facilities upgrade the district is seeking.

Rick Savors, chief of communications with the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission, said school board members have the option to separate portions of the district's master facilities plan and seek local shares at the polls one portion at a time, lowering the bond millage rate.

"It's an effort to make it a little bit easier on districts to find a millage that's suitable for their community," Savors said.

The practice of segmenting projects has been around for about eight months, he said. The $468-million SWCS asked voters for Nov. 4 can be subdivided into more than one issue.

"We think when we look at the numbers it's two distinct segments," said Superintendent Bill Wise.

Two segments could mean that school board officials will seek to obtain the local share of the facilities project in May and November next year.
Savors said segments cannot include partial renovations or partial completions of buildings.

"It's all building in, all building out," Wise said.

Wise added the master facilities plan developed by a steering committee in May would need to be amended if board officials chose to segment the project.
Savors said school board officials will be given a "wide latitude" as to how the segments are separated.

The district's eligibility for state funds, however, will expire after August 2009.

Savors said if a segment of the bond issue passes in November after the eligibility deadline, the school district will receive top priority in OSFC's next funding cycle in July 2010. He said the district will become a "lapse district" after August 2009 and the funding set aside from tobacco settlement funds will be "unencumbered and put back in the pot."

Savors said tobacco settlement funds totaled about $4.1-billion. About half of the funds have been given to school districts in the state. He said the remaining funds will likely be available by July 2010.

"I would be extremely, extremely surprised if it wasn't," he added.

The longer the district takes to secure the local share, however, the worse its chances become to secure the state share, Savors said, especially as construction costs have increased five percent annually for the past three years.

"Time really is money," he said.