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Published: Saturday, 10/1/2005

Wauseon residents can vote on school facility plan

BY JANE SCHMUCKER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

WAUSEON - Wauseon Exempted Village School District residents with an opinion on whether the district should construct new buildings, make significant renovations to its current buildings, or only repair them as needed can cast a ballot on the issue during a community meeting Monday night and help define a proposal to be presented to the school board.

The district's 35-member facility planning committee is hoping more than 200 people listen to its building and renovation proposals with pricetags ranging from $29 million to $37.5 million and cast their vote at the meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. in the Wauseon High School auditorium.

That vote will be considered by the committee, which is to make a recommendation to the school board this fall after another visit from the Ohio School Facilities Commission, which has helped other area districts pay for new buildings constructed to its standards.

State leaders have told Wauseon Superintendent Marc Robinson that the district has a "better than 50-50 chance" of qualifying for state funds next spring, he said.

The local committee is mulling a plan that calls for vacating Elm Street Elementary and Burr Road Middle School and replacing them with a new building for grades three through eight. That plan also calls for renovating Leggett Street Primary and Wauseon High School.

But other options remain on the table, including not accepting any state money, which comes with many rules about its use, and continuing to make only routine repairs as needed to the school buildings.

If the district is deemed eligible for state money in the spring and should the school board decide to pursue it, district leaders would have 12 months to come up with the local share of such funds.

That share probably would be about a third of the construction costs.

Under such a scenario, they might put a bond issue on the November, 2006 ballot, Mr. Robinson said.

That could be followed with a new operating levy in 2007, however.

Increased fuel costs for transportation and heating this year are narrowing the district's margin between its income and expenses on its five-year forecast, Mr. Robinson said.



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