Though critics have claimed a 5.99-mill bond issue before Rossford voters is the "wrong tax at the wrong time," board President Brian Hughes told residents last week that it's the right tax at the right time - if indeed there can be a right time for new taxes.
Mr. Hughes said if voters approve the $50 million bond issue, the district will be poised to replace its aging school buildings and athletic facilities in a two-phase plan that will require just the single new tax.
"In a normal setting this would be a $220 million project with principal and interest at 5 percent," Mr. Hughes said. "Because of the enterprise zone dollars we're getting, because of construction costs right now, because of low interest rates, and because of the savings plan we have to implement, we have cut that down to something south of $70 million.
"It's about as good as it can get," Mr. Hughes said, explaining that if the district waited for improved economic times to replace its school buildings, the price tag would rise considerably.
Still, opponents who have organized as the Coalition for Effective and Efficient Rossford Schools contend the two-phase $87.2 million building plan is tantamount to "maxing out" the district's credit card during a shaky economy, Bob Densic, coalition chairman, said.
Mr. Densic, who served on the committee that studied the district's facility needs, said the district should have done more to gauge the community's feelings.
"That input was not sought," Mr. Densic said.
At last week's board meeting, school officials promised that the community would have input into what its new schools would look like.
Superintendent Susan Lang said some people have assumed the board has developed plans for building, but the district would need to spend 9 to 12 months in the design phase before construction would begin.
"There are no blueprints," Ms. Lang said. "We haven't even hired an architect."
The plan before voters calls for building a middle and high school at the Glenwood Elementary site with proceeds from the 37-year bond issue on the Nov. 2 ballot.
If approved, the bond issue would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $183.44 a year, although the school board agreed this summer to apply income from enterprise-zone agreements with businesses in the district to reduce the millage it would collect.
That means the cost to property owners could be considerably lower in the first 10 years the bond issue is collected, Treasurer James Rossler said.
The second phase of the building proposal calls for the demolition of the old high school and junior high downtown and building a central elementary on the location, renovating the football stadium, and building a fieldhouse.
That portion of the project would be financed in part through savings realized from the operation of the new buildings.
"It's a unique plan, but these times call for us to step up and do something different," Mr. Hughes said.
"The part I think is most crucial is if we don't do it now, we're going to start pouring a lot of money into these old buildings at a time when state funding is very uncertain," Mr. Hughes said.
The decision to go before the voters now was approved by a 3-2 vote of the school board earlier this summer.
Board member Jackie Brown, who cast one of the two dissenting votes, said she wanted to see the district replace its buildings, which range in age from 1927 to 1969, in phases over time without asking residents to raise their taxes during this troubled economy.
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