District finalizes bond, levy issue, readies ballot campaign
New Albany-Plain Local School District officials and volunteers are ready to start campaigning following the school board's July 23 vote to finalize a combined bond and levy issue for the Nov. 6 ballot.
"We really think that we have taken our time to make a very thoughtful and well considered decision on this," school board President Laura Kohler said. "We're looking forward to the opportunity to share this information with the community and give them the opportunity to endorse the direction we're headed in."
The ballot request includes a 2.59-mill bond issue to generate $45,120,442 and a 4.24-mill, two-year continuous levy to generate $3,510,767.
The bond issue would fund a new building for 1,200 students and would include $11.4 million for site improvements. The operating levy would prevent a fiscal deficit in 2015, Kohler said.
If approved in November, the issue would cost property owners $209.24 per year -- about $130 for the levy and $79 for the bond issue -- per $100,000 of assessed property value. The owner of a home valued at $400,000, for example, would pay about $837 per year in property taxes while the bond and levy are in effect.
The operating levy would be permanent, but board members have called it a two-year levy, promising to come back to the community in two years to revisit the issue.
Kohler said the district then would repeat the process, evaluating its finances and determining revenue projections from its five-year forecast. Ohio law requires school districts to approve a five-year forecast prior to Oct. 31 each year and update it between April 1 and May 31 each year.
"We plan to continue to be really aggressive in looking for ways to improve our efficiencies through innovation," she said.
Kohler said in two years, residents also should see the results of changes the district recently has made.
"The changes that have been put in place in the last 18 months will continue to drive academic progress and student achievement," she said. "We believe this particular (ballot) issue is a great value to the taxpayers in terms of their investment."
Enrollment projections show the district will be 1,550 students over capacity by the 2021-22 school year.
The building that would be funded by the bond issue would house 1,200 students. The district has committed to find space off campus for 400 students, most likely juniors and seniors, in internships or college courses.
Superintendent April Domine previously said the new building also would not allow the district to add a school-funded, all-day kindergarten program, which would increase enrollment projections by 200 students.
The estimated cost of the new building is $33,693,722.
Ken Stark, the district's director of operations, said the remaining $11.4 million from the bond issue would 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.
The 2.59-mill bond issue also estimates for inflation, which the other bond option the school board considered, 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 total cost of the bond and levy per $100,000 of assessed property value would have been about $200 per year for property owners.
"This is a long-term solution to our space problems within a very fiscally responsible budget," Kohler said. "We've taken into consideration that we're asking the community to make a significant investment in the future of the district."
John McClelland will chair the district's campaign for the combined ballot issue. He has three children in the local schools and has lived in the district for 12 years.
"I think it's a community issue and we want to get the community involved," he said. "We want to be a volunteer-driven organization."
McClelland said he will recruit residents to help spread the message about the district's needs.
McClelland said his family moved to New Albany for the school system and he believes many other families did the same.
"We need to connect with the residents here on the importance of what we're trying to do," McClelland said. "This community was built around the schools. There's a reason the school (district campus) is in the center of the community. Most residents here recognize the value of education.
"We recognize that what we're asking for is a lot. We need to demonstrate the value of that investment and the return to our children and to this community as a whole."