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Thursday, March 6th, 2008

New Bremen board nixes state funds now for construction

By William Kincaid
NEW BREMEN - School officials will not pursue a renovation or construction project in 2009, as board of education members on Wednesday night agreed to defer any offer of state funding this year.
The Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) has not officially notified New Bremen of its eligibility for state money for a building project, but board members are anticipating the call this spring. Treasurer Deb Meyer said school officials were told to go ahead and defer any funding before the official call, if they are sure they don't want the money at this time.
Board members said they want more time to secure operating money and to gather community input.
However, board members said they may consider a school project in the next coming year or so.
Board member Larry Tangeman said public input is vital to any project.
Currently, OSFC is calculating the school's 10-year future enrollment, which determines how much money OSFC will commit. They also are reviewing assessments of New Bremen's facilities, as well as starting a preliminary master plan to determine possible project costs.
"I think you are slightly decreasing at this point," John Freytag of Freytag & Associates told board members about the school's declining enrollment, which would adversely affect funding. "It's critical. It all starts with enrollment."
But Freytag said if school officials would initiate an open enrollment policy - which board members discussed earlier in the evening - it could help the school.
"That is another impact you might want to consider," he said.
Freytag said New Bremen and other Ohio schools were caught off guard with their quick ascent up the OSFC's funding list and are not ready to take any state money. OSFC is trying to quickly spend $4.1 billion of the state's tobacco settlement in the next few years.
Freytag said deferring the money means the school district will keep its equity ranking and its funding position will remain the same for another year, when school officials can reconsider any possible project.
He also said OSFC officials will continue working on a master plan for the school, even though they deferred funding for a year.
Superintendent Ann Harvey, though, told board members they cannot wait indefinitely, as their rank and OSFC funding could change in a few years.
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