TIPP CITY — This week the Tipp City school district held the third of a series of community engagement meetings to discuss facilities planning.
Treasurer Dave Stevens dug into the district’s finances and Director of Services Gary Pfister gave an overview of planned renovations and possible future construction projects.
Stevens told attendees about the district’s debt capacity, which he described as “the state’s way of making sure school districts don’t tax their citizens too much.” The state sets debt capacity at 9 percent of a school district’s tax valuation. For Tipp City, that means — at a county auditor valuation of $405 million — the district’s debt capacity is about $36 million.
“There are some caveats to that,” he said. The district is still carrying debt from the high school construction (which will be paid off in 2024), an energy renovation project and recent land purchases. “We’ve got a total, right now of $11,158,000 in debt outstanding.”
Stevens explained that the debt capacity is dependent on property valuations, which fluctuate. The district also has a year left of “special needs” consideration, Stevens said, which is a 12 percent rate based on a recent spike in property valuations that would allow the district to push its debt capacity to $39 million next year.
Stevens and Pfister outlined some suggested projects, including a pre-kindergarten through sixth grade building and moving the junior high to L.T. Ball.
Locally funded, that project would likely cost $51 million, with state funding, that project could cost about $47 million. However, according to Stevens, if the locally funded portion of the project exceeds 50 percent of what the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) is willing to co-fund, then the OFCC could withdraw.
The district’s OFCC co-funding has ranged from 25-31 percent in recent years. Other districts have seen much higher matching funds, Stevens said, but added that Tipp City “will never see anything like that.”
The district notes on its website that the OFCC is currently unable to give the district a timeline of when it will be eligible to receive funding. The district would also have to build to OFCC standards, including square footage limitations, room sizes and designs, Pfister said.
The district is considering a new pre-kindergarten through fifth grade school built around L.T. Ball Intermediate School, Pfister said.
He added that the district is moving ahead with “targeted renovations” at the Middle School and L.T. Ball.
“Many of us in administration feel strongly that those two buildings have good bones and a lot of life left in them,” Pfister said. “And we believe strongly that we can do those renovations without asking for additional tax dollars from the community.”
The board accepted a quote at an earlier meeting for $4.7 million in work from Energy Optimizers, with the understanding that some of the projects may not be necessary depending on whether the district decides to undertake new construction in the future.
For more information about the district’s facility planning, visit the schools’ website, www.tippcityschools.com, and look under the “Our District” tab.
Reach Cecilia Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org