Participation in a significant facilities project now hinges on voter approval of a bond issue.

Participation in a significant facilities project now hinges on voter approval of a bond issue.

The South-Western City Schools Board of Education on Nov. 28 approved a 38-year, $148-million bond issue, at 2.9 mills, for the March 6 ballot.

The district needs the issue to satisfy the 50-percent contribution required by the Ohio School Facilities Commission Classroom for its Facilities Assistance Program.

The School Facilities Commission’s report said if SWCS receives state funding, the project’s total cost would be at least $207,354,884. SWCS would pay half that amount, and the bond issue would provide the funds. The state of Ohio would pay the remaining 50 percent.

If passed, the issue would be a “no-new millage” issue that won’t raise the bond millage rate above 2012 collection levels, district treasurer Hugh Garside said.

Garside on Nov. 8 said if the district continues to collect millage at the same rate it will in 2012, the district can pass the bond issue and retire the debt with no millage increase needed.

The project would include building 13 new elementary schools, replacing Franklin Heights High School and making minor renovations to Buckeye Woods and Darby Woods elementary schools.

Board members voted 4-1 to approve the bond issue, with board member Jo Ellen Myers voting against it.

Though Myers didn’t comment during the meeting, she voiced her disapproval in past meetings. During an Oct. 24 meeting, Myers said she had a problem with the labeling of “no new millage.”

“It is new millage. It’s at the same rate,” Myers said, saying come Jan. 1, 2013, voters “will have, in a sense, money in their pocket and you’re asking for it back.”

During the meeting, board member Cathy Johnson said the issue would give the district the building space necessary for all-day, every day kindergarten. New buildings would eliminate leaks and heating problems while allowing space for technology.

“I am very much in favor of this,” Johnson said.

Newer buildings would give the district the opportunity to eliminate portable classrooms outside the main school buildings to improve security, said board vice president Randy Reisling. The change also would improve energy efficiency.

“We won’t get that with our existing buildings,” he said.

In late fall of 2007, the facilities commission offered matching funds to the district to be used during the 2008-2009 school year. The state offered about half of the funds to renovate and replace various facilities throughout the district. The remaining funds were to come from a bond issue that the district placed on the ballot in 2008.

Voters rejected Issue 81, a combined levy and bond issue, in November 2008. The bond issue would have had a lifetime of 28 years and raised $262 million, or 53 percent, of a total $468 million project to revamp school facilities throughout the district.

With that issue’s failure, the district couldn’t qualify for the CFAP program, and it won’t qualify until voters approve this most recent bond issue.