New Albany-Plain Local school board members have directed Superintendent Steve Castle to work with the New Albany Community Authority to explore ways the authority could help finance new school facilities.

New Albany-Plain Local school board members have directed Superintendent Steve Castle to work with the New Albany Community Authority to explore ways the authority could help finance new school facilities.

Board president Diane Goedeking presented a letter from community authority trustee Keith Morris during the board's business meeting Oct. 26 about how the authority could assist the board.

Morris' letter proposes exploring the possibility of a school facility fund similar to the village's economic-development fund, which helps spur development on the New Albany business campus.

According to Gregory Stype, an attorney with Squire Sanders who specializes in public law and public-private partnerships and provides legal counsel to the authority, a special provision in the community authority statute could allow for it to contribute funds toward new school facilities.

The authority began as a way to build community facilities.

In 1995, the community authority issued $38-million in bonds to construct New Albany High School and Fodor Road, contributed money toward the Plain Township Fire Department and purchased a ladder truck for it.

The authority began collecting a levy at 9.75 mills but has lowered it to the current 4.75 mills. The debt is scheduled to be paid in full by 2024. The authority also assists with the village's economic development through income-tax collection from the New Albany business campus.

Goedeking said it would be prudent to explore the option.

"We as a district are in critical need of space; that is no secret to anyone up here," she said. "It's constantly a concern of ours. We as a board and as an administration are constantly trying to look for alternative measures to finance this growth."

She said Castle has spoken with Morris about the district's options.

"It is something that I think would be a very advantageous thing for the school district," Goedeking said.

Board member Mike Klein said he supports looking into this.

"It doesn't guarantee anything, but it certainly, with the need for facilities, puts everything on the table," he said.

Member Mark Ryan, who said he had served as a trustee on the community authority board for a couple of years, said the authority's goal has been to lower millage until the entity's debt is paid.

"It still is tax money, so I encourage you to go forward and investigate it," he said.

Castle said he would reach out to members of the authority to see about setting up an exploratory committee.