TIPP CITY — On Monday, the Tipp City Board of Eucation discussed the progression of talks with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission about the proposed addition to L.T. Ball Intermediate School.
According to Superintendent Gretta Kumpf, the district has qualified for the OFCC’s Expedited Local Partnership Program and will receive 35 percent matching funds from the state. That is the highest percentage that the district has been offered, Kumpf said. The program enables districts to move ahead with portions of their facilities projects and be reimbursed for part of the cost.
In order to be on the May ballot, the board will have to pass a resolution in December so the OFCC has enough time to prepare necessary documents, Kumpf said.
The district’s current facilities plan involves the addition of classroom and other space to L.T. Ball Intermediate School. That facility would house pre-kindergarten through fifth grade students. The district has been working to renovate both the current L.T. Ball building and the middle school.
Every pre-kindergarten through fifth grade student would be in a new classroom and the layout of the currently building would change “drastically,” Board President Sam Spano said. The current building would mostly be used for “ancillary facilities,” including the library, cafeteria, gym and administrative space, he added.
Kumpf said she would prefer to put a bond issue on the May 2019 ballot rather than wait until next November because of “rising costs.”
“From May versus the fall, there’s different requirements that the state will be putting in place. As those new requirements go into place, then we fall under that, of course,” she said. “I know this would be a very expedient timeline between now and May, but I do feel that it’s important for our community and our district to make every effort to provide that savings.”
Director of Services Gary Pfister said that the difference in costs between a May and November start would be almost $3 million, according to cost sets provided by the OFCC. The state currently has a moratorium on requiring districts to construct a storm shelter that will expire in September. Constructing a storm shelter could add about $1 million to the project, he added.
Pfister said that waiting to place a bond issue on the ballot would be “missing an opportunity to be fiscally responsible.”
“I think the $2 million, $3 million costs that we would be looking at to wait until November is huge. We’ve struggled trying to keep the costs down, we’ve struggled with when to do this,” Spano said. “To postpone the project and see it come up costing another $2 million to $3 million I think it a poor use of that money. I am very much in favor of trying to do it early, provided that we can get out there and get ahead of this and educate the community about what’s going on.”
Board member Corine Doll said that district “needs to at least try” placing a bond issue on the ballot in May.
Joellen Heatherly said she was “disappointed” not to hear a more comprehensive approach to several areas, including working with staff, coming up with an information campaign, engaging residents around the L.T. Ball campus, and options for paying off the high school.
“That seems to be the comprehensive information that we need to make a decision as to when we put it on the ballot,” she said.
The project will require a traffic study to consider the drop off and pick up patterns at the larger school, Kumpf said. If the district builds a larger kindergarten through fifth grade facility, the schools will move pick up and drop off away from Westedge Drive, she added.
Kumpf also brought up the possibility of another survey to gauge residents’ thoughts about the project.
“I do think that we have really listened to our voters from our last bond issue when we were trying very, very hard to have success there at the Broadway site, but that one did not move forward. We did find that it seemed like state funding was a very important aspect to a number of our community members,” she said.
A 3.98-mill bond issue on the ballot to build a new elementary school on the site of the Broadway Elementary School was rejected by the voters in 2016. “Fortunately, through the ELPP… we feel like we’re in a pretty good spot with that,” Kumpf said.
Reach Cecilia Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org.