Thursday, October 11th, 2012
By Margie Wuebker
New Bremen school building costs increase
Price tag jumps by $1.5M due to bond issue's failure
  NEW BREMEN - Projected construction costs for a new K-8 building have increased by $1.5 million since voters rejected a bond issue in March, according to reports presented to school board members Wednesday.
Superintendent Howard Overman said the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission now pegs the taxpayers' cost of the proposed 80,540-square-foot facility at nearly $14.2 million, an increase from the previous $13 million.
Total project costs are pegged at $21.43 million, up from the initial estimate of $19.84 million. The OSFC would contribute $7.23 million toward the project, instead of the previous $6.84 million.
Residents in March overwhelming defeated a 7.55-mill bond issue to build a new school. A survey conducted after the election showed many residents had little faith in school officials saying it would cost $12.5 million to renovate the existing 115,000-square-foot elementary/middle school.
Board members now have created a school district facilities committee, which includes heating, ventilation and air conditioning personnel, electricians and contractors, to weigh the pros and cons of new construction versus renovation.
Board member Keith Bornhorst, who serves on the committee with Overman and fellow board member Mandy Niekamp, said the goal is to come up with recommendations for the next three to five years, 10 years out and beyond.
"We expect a lot of input from the committee," Bornhorst said. "We now have the right guys with the right skills to help us."
Overman said New Bremen currently ranks 311th on the OSFC's list of lapsed schools who have not passed bond issues to guarantee local funding. While tobacco settlement money is depleted, state officials have said they will set aside needed money as a line item in the budget. However, there is no guarantee.
"I guess we take a gamble if we wait five to 10 years," the superintendent said. "And in the meantime, construction costs continue to rise."
Board members also,
• reviewed the five-year financial forecast, which projects expenditures of $8.08 million and expenditures of $8.77 million in fiscal year 2013. With carryover funds covering the anticipated shortfall of $680,056, treasurer Deb Meyer anticipates a cash balance of $5.5 million on June 30. She added the financial picture for future years remains uncertain as the state considers phaseout of tangible personal property tax replacement dollars. The school district receives $515,000 annually.
• received an enrollment update showing there are 829 students in grades K-12, a decrease of 25 students from last year. The October head count is used as a factor in state funding.
• approved changes to grade policies related to student suspensions. Students will be permitted to make up work and receive up to 64 percent credit. Previously, they were not permitted to make up work and received no grade. The change came about due to recommendations from the high school principal and faculty.
• increased rental rates for school facilities - the first time since 1999. Rental of the James F. Dicke Auditorium for performances increases from $150 to $200 with an additional $25 to cover rehearsals and $120 for the use of light and sound equipment. Rates for other areas increased approximately $10. The high school gym, shop area and vocational rooms are not available for rent.
• received an update on diagnostic assessments required for the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. Nine students in grades 1-3 have been identified as not on track with reading progress. Improvement plans will be developed in collaboration with parents.
• reminded residents a two-hour delay will be in effect Oct. 15 as the staff participates in school safety training. The session will be conducted by Auglaize County Sheriff Al Solomon, Deputy Jerry Sawmiller and New Bremen Police Chief Doug Harrod.
• accepted a $500 donation from Platinum Auto Group for the purchase of an iPad for an upcoming drawing. Students who answer questions correctly during Ohio Graduation Test and ACT practice sessions are eligible for the drawing with the grand prize to be awarded in the spring.
• watched as students Rosie Westerbeck, Kaitlyn Schwieterman, Allen Knief and Garrett Doherty presented a program highlighting a class project on the Olympics. They used various technology including Glogster, the cloud-based Prezi, PowerPoint and an iPad.
• met in executive session to discuss employment/evaluation of public employees. No action was taken following the closed-door discussion.
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