03-11-04 St. Marys still eligible for state funding
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03-11-04 St. Marys still eligible for state funding

By Lance Mihm

ST. MARYS — Board members learned the St. Marys school district can still get 62 percent of a new facilities project paid for by the state if local money can be secured in the next year.
     And that may mean putting another levy in front of voters in November.
     Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) planning manager Wayne Colman spoke with board members for nearly an hour at Wednesday’s school meeting.
     The school board entered into an agreement in April 2002 with the OSFC that says the state will pay for $31 million of a $50 million total school construction project. After adding in items that the state will not pay for, such as gymnasiums and a fine arts center, the school board determined it would need to raise $27 million from taxpayers to bring the total project cost to $58 million. However, a 6.92-mill bond levy to fund the local portion of the project was rejected in November.
     Board members now must decide if they want to again ask taxpayers for the local money.
     To guarantee the same amount of state funding for the project, a decision to go forward with the project must be made by next month. If board members choose to do so, the local funding must be secured before mid-April 2005, two weeks before the May primary. To meet that deadline, the board would have to put a building levy on the ballot in November or hold a special election. Colman said if the school district did not move forward with the project this year, it would lose its place on the equity list, which determines the amount of state funding a school district gets for a building project.
     “It appears the wealth of the district is going up. Currently interest rates are up and construction costs are low. You never know where it is going to be two years from now,” he said.
     Superintendent Paul Blaine said the decision of where to go from here would be up to the board of education.
     “Whether we like it or not, the community said no to a new school,” Blaine said. “But the administration was still concerned with allowing the agreement to expire. The administration is uncomfortable with making that decision. It ought to be a decision made by the board.”
     Board member Rees McKee asked if the board would have to spend any money to stay in the program. Colman replied they would not. Board member Craig Gottschalk asked if any other costs or obligations would be involved.
     “You would be under no obligation until the money is secured,” Colman said.
     He said if the board allowed the agreement to expire, they could start the process over from square one, with one exception. The second time around, the district would have to pay for the district assessment, which Colman guessed would cost between $15,000 and $40,000.
     None of the board members commented on whether they were for or against staying in the process.
     “I didn’t get a sense either way from any of the other board members,” Gottschalk said. “I’m not sure of what I think myself until I look into it more.”
     Treasurer Peg Grimm told board members 26 people have now asked for applications for the superintendent’s position, which will come open in August. Blaine announced his retirement shortly after the November election, effective for Aug. 1 of this year.
     Submitting applications so far are: Kenneth C. Baker of Wyoming, Terri Moore of Solon, William McKinney of Marion, Charles Shreve of Batavia, George Stone of Albion, Ind., Stephen Stohla of Ravenna, Pamela Carnahan of Colchester, Vt., and Thomas Forman of Heath. All eight are currently serving administrative positions at other schools.
     In other business, the board:
      Recognized Chad Doll, Memorial Scholastic Team adviser, for his key role in establishing the Western Buckeye League’s first league tournament.
      Recognized Grimm for achieving nine consecutive years of state audits without a single citation.
      Accepted the resignation of bus driver Kay Bruggeman.
      Agreed to rescind teacher Kendra Gottschalk’s maternity leave so she could return to work March 15.
      Authorized Business Manager Kurt Kuffner to take the necessary steps for preparing the Moulton School property for sale.
      Thanked the public for approving the March levy.


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