The South-Western City School District is taking a second stab at securing state funding for a large-scale facilities improvement project.

The South-Western City School District is taking a second stab at securing state funding for a large-scale facilities improvement project.

The school board on Sept. 12 gave its approval for the district to prepare for possible participation in the Ohio School Facilities Commission’s Classroom Facilities Assistance Program.

“It’s not possible to address all of our facilities’ needs within (the school district’s) existing debt structure,” district Superintendent Bill Wise said at the meeting.

In late fall of 2007, the facilities commission offered matching funds to the district to be used during the 2008-2009 school year. The state offered about half of the funds to renovate and replace various facilities throughout the district. The remaining funds were to come from a bond issue that the district placed on the ballot in 2008.

Voters rejected issue 81, a combined levy and bond issue, in November of 2008. The bond issue would have had a lifetime of 28 years and raised $262 million, or 53 percent, of a total $468 million project to revamp school facilities throughout the district.

With that issue’s failure, the district couldn’t qualify for the CFAP program, and it won’t qualify until voters approve a bond issue.

The district also must update its 2008 Master Facilities Plan to qualify.

Though the board would ultimately decide whether to approve a bond issue, the administration wouldn’t recommend moving forward if the project funding should require an additional tax burden, Wise said.

One bond held by the district will be paid off in December 2012. When that happens, district treasurer Hugh Garside said, the district could propose a bond issue that would require no additional millage.

The OSFC will only invest in buildings with at least 300 students, Wise said.

The OSFC normally recommends that an existing structure be replaced when the cost of renovating the school building exceeds two-thirds of the cost of building a new facility of the same size. Not all of South-Western’s buildings would have be included in the project.

Discrepancies exist between buildings, Wise told board members. Some elementary schools are 17 years old while others are more than 90 years old.

Board member Cathy Johnson said the program would allow the district to have enhanced learning environments and more space for a possible all-day kindergarten.

Currently, power outages, frozen pipes and leaking roofs make it difficult for students to concentrate, she said.

Small classrooms and libraries have limited equipment space.

“We simply don’t have the space to do the type of hands-on learning that really will help our students,” she said.

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