Wednesday, March 28th, 2012
By Amy Kronenberger
Celina names building options
New elementary, renovated middle school plan backed
  CELINA - City residents responded to a call for feedback on a possible school construction project.
Approximately 75 residents attended a community meeting Tuesday evening to learn about building options for Celina City Schools. About 87 percent favored constructing a new elementary school, demolishing East and West elementaries and renovating the middle school.
Matt Overman, a Celina resident and member of the facility planning committee, said he and his wife were surprised to see the amount of water in the basement at West and the space issues at both elementary schools.
"When we toured East, we were disgusted by the space conditions," he said. "Kids were having classes in janitors' closets. It's unacceptable."
School officials and representatives from Fanning-Howey Architects, Celina, first presented residents with the state-recommended master plan. The plan includes a new elementary building, renovating the middle, intermediate and high schools and demolishing East and West elementaries.
The price tag - $64.3 million.
The Ohio School Facilities Commission would fund 43 percent - $27.7 million - with taxpayers picking up $36.6 million.
But, new this year, the OSFC will allow a school to complete only a portion of the recommended master plan.
The district must agree on the total master plan but will have no obligation to complete the entire project. The completed segment must include a new building and the local share must exceed 4 percent of total district valuation - or $14.8 million, Fanning/Howey client liaison Joe DeLuca said.
The crowd on Tuesday favored a segmented option that would build a new elementary and renovate the middle school but eliminate renovations to the high and intermediate schools.
The price tag - $30.8 million. The state would provide $13.2 million and taxpayers $17.6 million. Taxpayers also would be asked for $3.1 million for Locally Funded Initiatives, which would be larger classrooms.
Superintendent Matt Miller said OSFC will only cover classroom space at a 25:1 student-teacher ratio.
"But ideally we want kindergarten and first-grade class sizes to be smaller," he said.
A bond issue for the preferred segment plan would be 3.2 to 3.5 mills for 37 years. A property worth $100,000 would pay $97-$106 per year for 37 years.
The $64 million state-recommended plan would require a bond issue of 5.9 to 6.5 mills, costing a $100,000 property owner $180-$198 per year. This plan includes an additional $5.3 million in LFI money for larger classrooms.
Other segmented options included a new elementary and just high school renovations at $47.1 million with $28.7 million in local share or a new elementary and middle and high school renovations at $57.2 million with $35.6 million in local share. Every option includes demolishing East and West.
DeLuca said state funding is based on property tax value per student. OSFC divides the total number of students by the total property value to decide how much funding to provide.
The funding then comes with certain criteria, such as the project must conform to Ohio School Design Manual standards and the location must be approved by the state. Also, if renovations to a building exceed two-thirds of the cost to construct a new one, a new facility must be built.
The new elementary building likely would be located at the site of West elementary. West would be demolished, and the students would be relocated during construction.
Miller said no final decisions have been made and the school will hold more meetings, including another community meeting before the board votes on a plan in May. He encouraged attendees to bring friends and neighbors to the next meeting.
If the board moves forward, OSFC approval for funding likely would come in July. The district then would have 13 months to pass a bond issue.
Officials have said a bond issue could be placed on the November ballot. If it failed, the board would try again in 2013.
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