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Published: Thursday, 6/18/2009

Otsego weighing levy options

TONTOGANY The Otsego school board is expected to decide in late July whether it will ask voters to approve a bond issue or try an alternate method to pay for a new elementary school and renovate the junior high.

The good news, said Superintendent Jim Garber, is the district would only need a 1.21-mill, 28-year bond issue to generate slightly less than $4.2 million the local share of the Ohio School Facilities Commission project.

The reduction of about $1.2 million in what was first expected to be a $5.4 million local share is because the board no longer plans to add five classrooms to the junior high and can save money by using the now-vacant Weston Elementary as a junior high while the school is being renovated, Mr. Garber said.

The district had planned to rent portable classrooms for students.

If the board does not ask voters to pass a bond issue for the project, it could use a lease-purchase option through which the district would issue bonds and repay them over 30 years in a loan arrangement similar to a land contract.

The payments would be made, Mr. Garber said, with the money Otsego would save by closing the three old elementary schools and consolidating students at one new school in Tontogany. Citizen groups have formed both in support of maintaining the district s three elementaries in Weston, Grand Rapids, and Tontogany and in support of the single-campus plan.

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