Tipp schools discuss construction funding

By Cecilia Fox - Troy Daily News

TIPP CITY — Tipp City Schools held an informational session Tuesday night about the district’s partnership with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) and its plans to build an addition to L.T. Ball Intermediate School.

Tipp City Schools Director of Services Gary Pfister explained the district’s involvement in the OFCC Expedited Local Partnership Program (ELPP), which allows school districts to proceed with construction projects and reimburses them later.

The district voted in December to enter into a project agreement with the state. Last week, the board took the first step toward placing a bond issue on the May ballot.

According to Pfister, the district’s current plan is to construct a 94,000-square-foot addition to L.T. Ball and renovate about 60 percent of the existing building. The expanded school building would house about 1,200 students in grades pre-kindergarten through five.

The estimated cost is about $35.75 million and the district is set to receive 35 percent matching funds through the ELPP.

“Thirty-five percent is a number you can’t scoff at. That’s a significant amount of money that will help us fund our project,” Pfister said. He added that the state share has varied from 24 percent to 31 percent in recent years.

There is no timeline for when the district will receive reimbursement from the state, but Pfister said the funding is “locked in.”

Pfister said that once the district receives reimbursement from the state, it plans to refinance the bond issue, reduce the millage rate, or both. District treasurer Dave Stevens added that the district has been able to do this with the bond issue for the high school, which will be paid off sooner than originally planned.

Pfister explained that the state’s first school construction commission was established in 1997 and funded with money from a tobacco settlement lawsuit. Currently, the OFCC is funded by the state legislature.

“They are nowhere near finished with all the schools that need their help, so I can’t see this program going away,” he said.

Over the summer, the district put a lot of renovation work into the middle school, including heating and air conditioning, new windows and curtain walls, security upgrades, roof work, refinishing of the gym floor, new lighting and more, Pfister said.

“We’re comfortable that that middle school is going to last another 30 years, minimum,” he said.

The district has planned several more meetings to discuss the proposed bond issue and construction project. Those meetings will all be held at 6:30 p.m. at L.T. Ball in the cafeteria. A “good neighbor” meeting for residents of the area surrounding the Hyatt Street campus is set for Jan. 22; a meeting to review the proposed floor plan for the L. T. Ball project is set for Feb. 19; details of the financing for the project will be discussed on March 12; and another meeting is scheduled for April 9 to discuss feedback from previous sessions.

For more information about the bond issue and facilities planning, Pfister directed people to building.tippcityschools.com.

By Cecilia Fox

Troy Daily News

Reach Cecilia Fox at cfox@troydailynews.com.

Reach Cecilia Fox at cfox@troydailynews.com.