The New Albany-Plain Local school board on July 23 unanimously voted to finalize the district's November ballot request, which will include a two-year operating levy and a bond issue for a 150,000-square-foot building.

The New Albany-Plain Local school board on July 23 unanimously voted to finalize the district's November ballot request, which will include a two-year operating levy and a bond issue for a 150,000-square-foot building.

The combined ballot issue would cost local property owners $209.24 per year per $100,000 of assessed property value.

The request includes a 2.59-mill bond issue to generate $45,120,442, which includes $11.4 million for site improvements, and the 4.24-mill, two-year levy to generate $3,510,767.

The permanent operating levy would keep the district from a budget deficit in 2015 and the bond issue would be used for a 150,000-square-foot building northwest of the 2-5 elementary building. The building would cost $33,693,722.

The remainder of the funds -- $7,433.023 in the 2.36-mill bond issue -- would be used for site improvements related to the new building.

Ken Stark, the district's director of operations, said the bond issue would be expected to pay for parking lots at the new building; better access off New Albany-Condit Road (state Route 605); improvements and site grading to the green area between the 2-5 building and the new building; improvements to the middle school and high school bus loop; and more parking and improvements to the 2-5 building bus loop.

It also estimates for inflation, which the other bond option, a 2.36-mill issue to generate $41,126,745 that included $7.4 million for site improvements, did not. If that option had been chosen, the cost per $100,000 of assessed property value would have differed only slightly at $202.21.

The board on July 16 had narrowed its four levy and bond scenarios to two, choosing a 4.24-mill, two-year levy to pair with a bond issue. The board eliminated two other scenarios that paired one of the proposed bond issues with a 7.68-mill, three-year levy.

"I think we're at a point where we can perhaps eliminate the more expensive option of an operating levy," school board President Laura Kohler said July 16.

Board member Cheri Lehmann agreed.

"I think with the economy, we need to go with a two-year levy and see where we are in two years and reassess then," she said.

Board Vice President Michael Klein cautioned the board that it must ensure district residents understand the levy cycle will be shorter.

The district's financial review and reporting committee (FRRC) also voiced support for the two-year operating levy cycle during its meeting the morning of July 16.

Superintendent April Domine told the FRRC on July 16 that the district is using 2010 estimates on site improvements, which includes the asphalt estimates for parking lots.

FRRC member Phil Derrow asked if the district could build gravel lots for student parking if costs have increased due to inflation. Domine said the district has not designed building plans so parking lots could be changed to save money.

FRRC member Parag Patel asked if using older estimates and not accounting for inflation was dangerous. Board member Mark Ryan said the board wants to set a budget first, and if it is approved by voters, make final decisions on the improvements.

"We decided to lead with a budget and to ask the community to get involved in the design, after they've committed to the investment," Domine said.

Domine said the district has cut costs for a potential building by decreasing the amount of students that would use it.

Officials estimate the district will be 1,550 students over capacity by the 2021-22 school year. The new building would house 1,200 students.

District officials have committed to find space off campus for 400 students, most likely juniors and seniors. Domine has said she would like to work with local businesses to provide students with internships and local colleges to provide opportunities to earn more college credit.

The new building would not allow the district to add a district-funded, all-day kindergarten program, which increases enrollment projections by 200 students, Domine said.