The Northridge Board of Education will hear recommendations from the district's Master Plan Steering Commission and finance committee Monday, Jan. 25, before it decides what tax issue to place on the May 4 ballot.

The Northridge Board of Education will hear recommendations from the district's Master Plan Steering Commission and finance committee Monday, Jan. 25, before it decides what tax issue to place on the May 4 ballot.

"The groundwork has been done," said Felicia Drummey, district treasurer. "Now it's up to the board to decide. Experts will be on hand Monday."

During a special meeting Jan. 18, the board approved legislation allowing it to keep all options open for May's election.

Board members Brent Garee, Lee Hatfield, Jeff Schrock and Troy Willeke voted in favor of a resolution to issue bonds and submit questions of such issuance to the electors, while Mark Dann voted no.

The resolution declared Northridge to be a "special needs" district because the student population isn't adequately serviced by the existing permanent improvements of the district and cannot obtain funds to provide additional facilities to meet such needs.

The legislation is a requirement for the purpose of constructing school facilities and locally funded initiatives under the Exceptional Needs Program of the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC).

Dann said the district just passed a 9.9-mill emergency operating levy to keep the lights on and retain staff last May, and the district's 1 percent income tax expires this year.

He's concerned about moving forward with additional tax issues less than 12 months after emergency levy approval.

Board members are also taking into consideration that the state of Ohio will cover 31 percent of the cost to build new facilities, and Drummey has said that's as good as it will ever get.

Becky Pricehorn, the district's bond counsel with Bricker and Eckler, said Monday's legislation allows the district to "stay in line" for assistance through the OSFC.

"The time to make a decision if you're going forward is on Monday (Jan. 25)," she said.

One option that is ready to go and supported by the OSFC is the construction of a new K-5 building on the current high school/middle school campus.

The state would fund 31 percent of the estimated $12.8-million project with Northridge covering 69 percent.

The OSFC doesn't co-fund purchase of land for a building, offsite utility costs, bus garages, district administrative facilities or stadiums.

Drummey said the scope of the project will determine upcoming deadlines.

If a bond issue is paired with an income tax, a Feb. 3 deadline must be met. A bond with a permanent improvement issue allows more time with a Feb. 15 deadline.

"We need an idea of the scope and funding mechanism," Drummey said.

Pricehorn said the board's challenge is to figure out what's right for the community and what the taxpayer is willing to pay.

Monday's meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the high school media center.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com