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Friday, May 4th, 2007

District approved for state building funds

School will have 12 months to pass levy to raise local funds

By Janie Southard
The Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) announced Thursday that St. Marys City Schools is among 39 districts in the state to receive building improvement money for fiscal year 2008.
Based on the basic project that has been recommended to the school board by the Facilities Planning Committee the basic project would be $45.94 million plus locally funded initiatives (LFIs). The community share of the basic would be between $150 and $196 additionally per year for a $90,000 market-value home.
Kuffner said there would be three opportunities over the next 12 months to get a levy passed.
The school district has until June to submit a final facilities plan to OSFC for state budgeting purposes and, as well, for the district to accept, reject or defer for one year the state money. It has already been established that the state will provide 61 percent funding for the approved plan.
The other 39 percent would have to be raised through a tax issue. Also, local taxpayers would have to foot the bill for 100 percent of the costs of locally funded initiatives (LFI), which include auditoriums, gymnasiums and athletic fields.
As for an auditorium, some community comment has been that the present Performance Center in the high school building be kept and renovated. The state has made its position clear verbally and in writing that no state funding will ever be available for such a project due to the fact that the McBroom-Memorial complex lies in a flood plain.
The state will follow its own procedure and formally consider plans and budgets in July and seek official approval in August from the State Controlling Board.
"In 2003, local folks were very skeptical as to whether we would get any state money. This time we'll absolutely know, should the board decide to proceed with the project, that the state money will already be set aside for us in a mayonnaise jar under the district treasurer's desk," District Business Manager Kurt Kuffner quipped this morning in a telephone conversation.
And, will the board accept the funding and proceed?
Board President Rees McKee told The Daily Standard this morning, "I have a good feeling things will work out. But, again, as we've said from the get-go, we won't do it if we feel there is not enough support from the community."
Location for a new school obviously, is a concern that has been raised at several community meetings over the past six months. McKee said that issue will "definitely be on the table at the May 9 board meeting." He stressed, however, that there has been no board discussion about the subject thus far.
"I'm sure we all have preferences but we haven't discussed them yet. In fact, we don't even know what's available at this point," McKee added.
As explained throughout the past year, local money would have to come from a thumbs-up at the polls as early as November, although the actual language has yet to be determined.
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