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Published: Wednesday, 10/8/2008

Genoa schools bond request smaller than last one

BY CLAUDIA BOYD-BARRETT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Voters didn't pass a levy request in March, but Genoa area school officials hope a smaller request on the Nov. 4 ballot will garner support to secure funding for facility improvements and to build an elementary school.

District voters will be asked for a 1.9-mill bond issue to be funded over 28 years, along with a 0.5-mill, continuing levy for ongoing maintenance at school buildings. Together they would cost owners of a $100,000 house $73.55 a year.

The price is less than half the cost of the bond issue Genoa Area Local Schools voters denied in March by 131 votes. That bond issue was 4.9 mills over 28 years and was also accompanied by a 0.5-mill ongoing levy. That would have cost the owner of a $100,000 home $165.37 a year.

The new levy would fund the construction of one elementary school, along with improvements to the existing 45-year-old Genoa Area High School building. In March voters were asked for money to build a new high school as well.

However, a state amendment signed into law earlier this year allows districts to split building projects into phases. This has allowed Genoa to delay its plans for a new high school and cut the cost of the bond issue. A new high school might still be built in 10 to 15 years, Superintendent Dennis Mock said.

Much of the funding for the new elementary school and high school improvements would come from the Ohio School Fa-

cilities Commission, which has pledged to give Genoa schools more than $19 million if the district can come up with $5.2 million. This will be the last time the district can take advantage of this funding offer, said OSFC spokesman Rick Savors.

"The bottom line is, we have an opportunity to get a check for $19,222.173," Superintendent Dennis Mock said. "If we do not pass [the bond issue] here in November, then the money that the state [facilities commission] said would come to Genoa schools will be released to the next school."

If the bond issue, on the ballot as Issue 14, passes, the district will construct a building for kindergarten through fifth grade on the same campus as the high school and middle school.

The new school would replace the district's 66-year-old Allen Central Elementary and 46-year-old Brunner Elementary buildings.

Mr. Mock said the district hasn't decided what would be done with the old buildings.

By putting all schools on the same campus, the district would save money on transportation, utilities, staffing, and building maintenance, Mr. Mock said. He estimated yearly savings of close to $200,000, half of this from projected reductions in administrative staff.

A new elementary building also would have state-of-the-art facilities and more space than the current elementaries, he said.

School board member Al Brown said he hoped voters grasp the opportunity to build a new school, despite tough economic times.

"Hopefully the long-term benefits will override short-term concerns," he said.

Brenda Murphy, the principal at both of the elementaries, said a new school on a central campus would make life easier for students, parents, and teachers.

She said the current older buildings have numerous problems, including leaking ceilings, rusty pipes, dated playground equipment, and no air conditioning.

"A new school would be a very conducive learning environment," Ms. Murphy said. "When students see a new building, they feel better about themselves."



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