Board to move forward with plans for new school

By Cecilia Fox -

TIPP CITY — The Tipp City Board of Education voted 4-1 Monday night to move forward with plans for a new prekindergarten through third grade building on the site of the existing Broadway Elementary School.

The board also voted to defer state funding and ask voters to approve local funding for the project. An amount and ballot date for a possible bond issue have not yet been set.

“I like the autonomy of local funding,” board president Tom Merritt said. Other board members agreed, saying they felt that a locally funded project will give the district total control over the construction.

The district was previously offered 25 percent matching funds from the state to construct a prekindergarten through eighth grade, but a series of changes in requirements from the Ohio School Facilities Commission led the school board to defer the process.

Board member Scott Dixon voted no on both resolutions, saying that the board had previously agreed on a different plan just three months ago.

He also argued for language addressing the district’s athletic facilities. His sentiments were echoed by several parents who expressed their concerns about the safety of the football stadium.

“Prekindergarten through grade three is the first priority as far as I’m concerned,” Superintendent Gretta Kumpf responded. Board member Kate Johnsen pointed out that more than 57 percent of respondents in a 2014 survey said that athletic facilities were a low priority.

Kumpf said that it is time for the district to move forward after years of discussing construction options.

The new facilities plan would build a new prekindergarten through third grade building on the Broadway site. It would also take into account the demolition of Broadway, Tipp Central and Nevin Coppock, as well as the “swing space” needed to house the students displaced by construction, and critical renovations at the middle school and at L.T. Ball.

The district’s architect Mike Ruetschle projected that this plan could cost $27,863,126, an estimated 3.9 mill bond issue.

If a levy funding the project passed in the March 2016 election, construction could begin as early as next summer, Ruetschle said. The district could move students into the new building in the fall of 2018.

In other business, the board also approved a resolution to issue bonds in an amount not to exceed $370,000 in order to purchase land next to the high school. The district will purchase the land from owners Tim Logan and Jack Berry.

While a use for the parcel has not been specified, board members and Logan pointed out that it is in the district’s best interest to be able to control the surrounding property.

The board also heard from Mike Burns of Baird Financial, who shared that the firm has been successful in refinancing the district’s bonds from the construction of the high school, saving the taxpayers about $735,000.

The board voted to prohibit the use of drones at all district sponsored athletic events

Merritt also congratulated Tippecanoe High School on being named one of the top high schools in the country by Newsweek. The school was listed as 309 out of about 37,000 high schools in the country.

“It’s easy to lose sight of how great our district already is,” Merritt said, saying that the district is still always looking for ways to improve.

By Cecilia Fox