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Published: Thursday, 6/12/2003

Meeting to allay concerns on Otsego district school plans

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Ohio School Facilities Commission representatives will be in Tontogany June 24 to answer questions from the public about how the state's schools building and renovation program affects Otsego schools.

Some residents have contacted the OSFC in Columbus with concerns about funding issues and other matters, but apparently “different people called and got different information,” Superintendent Joe Long said .

Voters twice have rejected a 9.14-mill bond issue that would have raised $25.5 million to improve facilities, and would have allowed the district to receive $22.3 million in funds from the Ohio School Facilities Commission.

Voters will see a similar issue on the Aug. 5 ballot. District residents will be asked to approve an 8.9-mill bond issue over 28 years to raise $25.5 million that would help pay for a construction and renovation project. The district was able to secure a lower interest rate than when it was last on the ballot, Mr. Long said.

If approved, the tax will cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $272 a year.

Otsego officials are seeking an extension from the OSFC for the state funds the district would have received if the bond issue had been approved last year. There is a chance the issue would have to be pulled from the ballot if the extension is denied, Mr. Long said.

The Otsego district includes portions of Wood, Lucas, and Henry counties.

Some residents who oppose the plan are trying to find out if the OSFC would make exceptions to some of its rules or guidelines. For school districts to receive state money, they have had to follow the state plan.

Some residents have opposed the district's plans to close its three elementary schools, but a compromise plan has been drawn up.

Under the previous plan, district officials hoped to build a middle school-high school complex and a building to house pupils on the Tontogany campus. Its three existing elementary schools would have been abandoned.

The new plan calls for the district to build a middle-high school complex in Tontogany.

Haskins Elementary School would close, and those students and Tontogany-area elementary students would be housed in the former high school. Elementary schools in Grand Rapids and Weston would remain open.

The 7 p.m. session is meant to clear misconceptions voters may have had last fall when the bond was defeated. The regular meeting begins at 6.

In other business last week, the board approved a three-year agreement with Otsego Educators Association. The union, which represents about 100 teachers, ratified the pact last week too. It calls for a 3.5 percent pay increase each year, with insurance-plan changes.



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