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Published: Monday, 8/12/2013 - Updated: 11 months ago

Swanton school board considers building plans after levy failures

BY TOM HENRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

SWANTON — Swanton Local Schools has a dilemma: It wants to construct a new prekindergarten through 6th-grade building with no additional money coming into the district. Otherwise, it could soon take a big hit in maintenance and repair costs.

The situation is a result of the district’s second loss in recent months of a proposed bond levy to pay for new construction.

A proposal for a 35-year, 3.9-mill bond issue to generate $13.5 million for construction and a 0.5-mill continuing maintenance levy, was rejected Tuesday, as well as in May.

The new millage would have cost the owner of a $100,000 home $110 more in property taxes.

The outcome isn’t expected to affect current staffing or operations. But it presents a dilemma to the school board, because the district was at the top of the list for state funding to help cover costs for the new building if either of the millage levies had passed.

“As it stands now, we’d have to do everything on our own. It’s my understanding we’re at the bottom of the list again,” said Kris Oberheim, school board president.

“Right now, we’re at a standstill.”

A master plan called for a $25-million project, which would have included the new building. Two standing buildings would have been torn down or offered for sale.

The state of Ohio’s offer was to pay costs beyond what was generated by a levy. That offer is about to be rescinded because it needed support for a local levy from voters within 13 months.

Superintendent Jeff Schlade said it was likely the district’s last attempt to fund its master plan.

The board now has to decide if it wants to come up with a more modest proposal and face the possibility of shouldering most — if not all — of the financial burden.

The board’s other option is to hope the maintenance and repair costs don’t become exorbitant on its existing buildings.

“It’s disheartening. They didn’t tell us once, they told us twice. The voters have spoken,” Ms. Oberheim said. “But that’s the beauty of democracy.”

Mr. Schlade said the board and the administration “will now assess and analyze the reality of the district to determine where we will go from here.”

Contact Tom Henry at: thenry@theblade.com or 419-724-6079.



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