Licking County News

Southwest Licking schools

Bond issue brewing for building program


The Southwest Licking school district's administration and board members are working to decide how much millage to place on the November ballot to cover districtwide renovation and building project totaling roughly $110 million.

The Ohio School Facilities Commission will cover nearly half of that total cost, if Southwest Licking voters approve a ballot issue to provide matching local dollars.

They'll have their first chance to do so in November. During a special meeting, the board voted 3-0, with members Cindy Zaino and Dave Engle absent, to approve a package that also includes locally funded initiatives, or features the board deems necessary for the new facilities that the state won't cover.

The district wants to build one new elementary school to house kindergarten through fifth grade; and renovate Etna, Kirkersville and Pataskala elementary schools, which also would house kindergarten through fifth grade.

The district plans renovations and an addition to Watkins Memorial High School, which would then become the district's middle school, housing grades six through eight; and construction of a new high school to house grades 9 through 12 and Career Tech.

Finally, the district wants to demolish the Southwest Licking Kindergarten Center and the administration office building.

Superintendent Robert Jennell said the cost of the total project, including mandatory local funding initiatives, is $96,063,488.

Of that , the district is responsible for $51,223,618.

The school board also approved a package that includes $15,201,748 worth of proposed local funding initiatives that members believe are needed to serve district students adequately and safely.

According to a building project cost proposal, LFIs include items such as terrazzo flooring, which is extremely durable flooring; energy efficiency upgrades; sloped roofs; and all exterior brick, among others. Other than within the buildings themselves, board members approved other LFIs such as safe walking paths between some schools.

To summarize, local funding not matched from the state would tally:

* $1,070,961 for the new elementary school;

* $479,430 for Etna Elementary;

* $491,143 for Kirkersville Elementary;

* $485,536 for Pataskala Elementary;

* $596,400 for the new middle school (created from the existing high school);

* $10,191,278 for the new high school; and

* other LFIs totaling $1.887 million, to create the grand total of $15,201,748.

The bottom line is local taxpayers would pay a $66,525,366 share of the $110 million districtwide building program.

"No estimated millage has been calculated yet," Jennell said. "The total dollar amount was just approved by the board."

He said district Treasurer Richard Jones is working on getting a millage amount.

"The board will be meeting later this month to vote on placing the issue on the November ballot,"Jennell said.