Northwood Superintendent Greg Clark shows a laptop storage unit at Northwood Elementary. Janitors must unplug computers when vacuuming so no fuses are blown; the room has 20 amps of service.
Having lost its bid to fund construction of a school by a mere three votes last year, the Northwood school board plans to try again in May.
Last week, the panel passed a resolution declaring the need to go to voters on May 6 with a request for a combined earned income tax and property tax.
The vote was the first of two steps required for the district to return to the polls. The resolution goes to the Wood County auditor, who will calculate the size of the proposed tax increase. The second step will occur at a special meeting, set for 6 p.m. Jan. 26 in Superintendent Greg Clark’s office, when the board plans to adopt the numbers received from the auditor.
Mr. Clark said the issue’s narrow loss at the polls Nov. 5 “was too close to walk away from, really. We do believe this is the best opportunity for our district to address our facility needs.”
That’s because if voters adopt the measure in May, the Ohio School Facilities Commission will pay $11.5 million, or about 35 percent, of the cost of the new building, which would house students in prekindergarten through 12th grades and be located on the district's campus on Lemoyne Road.
Mr. Clark noted the May tax request will be the district's last chance to qualify for the state money, which has a 13-month time limit. “The clock started last summer, when the board agreed to partner with the state,” he said.
Additionally, the district has payments in lieu of taxes from Johnson Controls Inc. and FedEx Corp. that could be used to help finance the project, the superintendent said.
The requested millage is expected to be 4.9 mills, the same as it was in November. The earned income tax also will be the same — 0.25 percent — and would not apply to pensions, Social Security, or investment income. The owner of a $100,000 home with an earned income of $50,000 would pay about $300 per year in additional tax.
Mr. Clark said the earned income tax portion would generate about 2 mills, or $230,000. The entire proposed tax would raise about $869,000 each year, Treasurer Angel Adamski said.
The earned income tax would be permanent, while the property tax would expire in 37 years, with the retirement of the construction debt.
Northwood’s buildings are showing their age, the superintendent said. The high school is 50 years old; Olney Elementary dates to 1938.
“We are trying to have computers for every child when only an outlet or two are available in a classroom,” he explained. “We’re at the point where the best analogy I've heard people use is we have a car that is costing us more to keep on the road than investing in a new one. As of right now, our district has no debt. We worked hard to get there because we knew this was coming, and we wanted to be able to get the best bond rating.”