Residents in the Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools district will likely see a combination bond and operating levy on the May 8 ballot.

The issues would go toward construction of a new elementary school and provide K-8 building improvements.

The school board took the first step to place a combined operating levy/bond issue for 5.5 mills, with a bond request of 1.22 and an operating levy request of 4.28 mills, by approving a resolution of necessity on Jan. 11.

If the issue is approved, the cost to the owner of a house with a market value of $100,000 would be an additional $16 per month.

If approved, the bonds would be dated about June 1, 2018, and will be paid over a period not to exceed 30 years. The levy would be placed upon the tax list and duplicate for the current tax year, commencing in 2018, first due in calendar year 2019, for a continuing period of time.

Board president Beryl Piccolantonio said a vote is scheduled Thursday, Jan. 25, to place the issue on the ballot.

Superintendent Steve Barrett said the proposed issue is the result of a 2017 Master Facilities Plan meant to address overcrowding and the need to update facilities.

"We worked with our Master Facility Planning Committee, which is comprised of parents, school leaders and community members, to develop this plan," he said. "The district is firmly committed to transparency and engagement with the Gahanna community."

The plan addresses key issues facing the district, including outdated buildings, overcrowding in elementary schools and the need for an expanded high school.

Barrett said it specifically considers the growth occurring in Jefferson Township, where 206 houses and a 72-unit residential/extended stay hotel are slated to be built in the near future.

The school board voted Jan. 11 to adopt the final draft of the plan, which outlines two distinct phases.

The bond/levy proposal would finance the first phase, including a new Lincoln Elementary School building to be finished by the beginning of the 2021-22 school year.

It would also cover the cost of classroom, media center and student restroom renovations throughout the district in K-8 buildings.

The resolution of necessity states the issue is required for the purpose of constructing school facilities, including a new elementary school; renovating, repairing, improving and constructing improvements and additions to existing school facilities, buildings and infrastructure; and furnishing and equipping the same.

Piccolantonio said the committee worked with architects, brought in consultants to provide information about future anticipated growth in Jefferson Township and Gahanna, and found ways to gather public input in order to develop a plan to meet the district needs that reflects its culture and identity.

Barrett said the second phase includes additions to High Point and Blacklick elementary schools; classroom additions to all three middle schools and auditorium additions to Middle School East and Middle School South; and renovation or replacement of Gahanna Lincoln High School.

Barrett said the district has been dedicated to the fiscally responsible management of funds raised through its last operating levy, which passed in 2011.

He said the district made $1.3 million in reductions last spring to extend the life that levy.

Families and community members have been hosting "coffee discussions" throughout the school district to discuss the draft of the plan and future facility needs, Barrett said.

"The involvement and feedback has been tremendously helpful, and changes have been made to the draft plan based on the feedback we have received," he said.

Piccolantonio said the board is grateful to those who served on the Master Facility Planning Committee for their role in developing a long-term plan for the district.

"We're especially thankful that they actively sought and received so much input from our community," she said. "The committee was established in 2014 in order to develop a long-term plan for our aging and overcrowded buildings."

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla