Johnstown Independent

8 mills

Johnstown-Monroe moves on May bond issue

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Johnstown-Monroe Local School District residents will decide in May whether they want the district to build two new schools and renovate the high school for middle school use.

The school board met in two special meetings Jan. 27 and Jan. 30 to consider and approve legislation to place an issue on the May 6 ballot.

After certification by the Licking County auditor's office, district treasurer Tammy Woods said, the issue will be 8 mills, with 7.5 mills for bonds and a 0.50-mill levy for maintenance of the new buildings.

If approved by voters, the issue is expected to generate $1.87 million annually for 38 years.

Residents would pay an additional $280 annually per $100,000 assessed property value, or $23.33 per month.

During a special meeting Jan. 27, a community-based group recommended that the board place before voters a shared project with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission for a K-5 building at Leafy Dell, a new 9-12 building on the existing high school campus and partial renovations at the high school for middle school use. The renovation would have to be funded entirely locally.

Johnstown-Monroe would have to raise 71 percent of total costs locally, with the state contributing 29 percent for the shard building projects.

Woods estimated $29.7 million would be spent on the district's master plan for a new high school and elementary, with $6.16 million going toward the locally funded initiative to refurbish the high school and provide infrastructure needs, for a total project cost of $35.86 million.

The high school renovation would include new heating and ventilation equipment, water and sewer improvements, electrical subpanels for electrical capacity to classrooms, technology upgrades, roof replacement at the library and performing-arts center, a secured vestibule entrance and a new gym floor and bleachers.

Facility group volunteer Dustin Calhoun said the recommendation is based on three community meetings, survey results and other conversations within the community.

"We felt this gave the best chance at passing," he said.

Residents' financial bottom line was kept in mind with the request, he said.

Calhoun said the figures provided during the community forums were strictly for buildings.

"We understand there will be money needed for traffic (improvements)," he said.

Group volunteer Paul Garland said the figures presented during the Jan. 15 presentation were based on 2013 OFCC cost sets, a value for construction based on the state assessment.

The figure presented to the board Jan. 27 included a 4-percent inflation factor for the 2014 cost sets that are determined in March, he said.

Jay Hazelbaker, a volunteer with the facilities discussion group, said many residents who attended the community meetings favored all new schools buildings.

"We're trying to balance the needs with the wants," he said. "Trying to do all new might not be something the community at large would be behind. We felt it was a more responsible approach to recommend what we did."

Acting Superintendent Nelson McCray said he was impressed with the Jan. 15 community meeting. He said every possible question was asked.

"You have a really good leadership team working with the community and board," he said. "Congratulations for that effort so far."

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