Tuesday, October 29th, 2013
By Margie Wuebker
New Bremen voters to decide again on school construction proposal
Election November 2013
NEW BREMEN - School officials are hoping to pass a combined 7.91-mill bond issue and maintenance levy for the second time.
If approved, the millage would generate $14.6 million toward the construction of a K-6 building and additions to the existing high school for seventh- and eighth-grade students. The Ohio Schools Facility Commission would contribute $6.975 million to the $22.5 million project; the remaining $994,108 would come from local permanent improvement funds.
Approval of the combined millage would cost the owner of a $100,000 home an extra $276.85 annually for a period of 33 years. Residents can go online at www.auglaizeauditor.ddti.net to estimate the tax amount.
Some in attendance at recent community meetings have suggested officials wait until the high school building is paid off in 2018 before pursuing additional millage. The owner of a $100,000 home currently pays $241 a year toward the debt.
Superintendent Howard Overman said if the levy is approved, district residents would pay both taxes for several years.
"There will be more to pay initially," he said. "And in 2018 the high school millage goes away."
Treasurer Deb Meyer said the cost of the project will climb an estimated 3.29 percent per year if the project is delayed. She also noted the OSFC funding is only guaranteed in the state's current two-year budget.
If the measure fails, the board will have to deal with mounting expenses at the elementary/middle school and come back to voters with another proposal.
Voters turned down a similar levy in March 2012, sending the proposed project back to the drawing board. Based on community input, the project was moved from the west side of the high school along state Route 274 to the southeast, with access from Cardinal Drive.
Officials scaled down the size of the building and made additions to the high school because the OSFC only co-funds the construction of K-6 buildings. One of the items removed from the initial plan was a costly connector that would have joined both buildings.
School officials and members of the facilities committee maintain it is too costly to renovate the existing elementary/junior high building - an estimated $17 million project that likely would include temporarily moving students into modular classrooms.
The original three-story section was built in 1929 with additions in 1955, 1968 and 1991. The building has no air conditioning or sprinkler system capabilities, and has ongoing roof, plumbing and heating issues.
Information from the levy committee cites numerous safety benefits of a new building, including fewer entrances with electronically monitored doors, a sprinkler system, state-of-the-art monitoring for fire safety and handicap accessibility.
The new building also would provide 21st Century learning opportunities through improved technology and it would move all students to the 46-acre high school campus.
Overman and others see the construction of a new school as a means of positioning New Bremen as a progressive, educationally excellent area for homes, families, businesses and industry. They also said school projects like this spurs economic development and stimulates both commercial and residential growth.