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Pettisville School Board Hosts Meeting; Residents Learn About Bond Issue




Pettisville students could be attending classes in an entirely new school building in the fall of 2010, according to information shared at a district meeting Monday night in the junior high gym.

The bulk of the $20-million plus project could be paid for with state funds, if voters in the Pettisville school district approve a bond issue and property tax levy during the Nov. 4 general election.

Pettisville School District offi cials have given several informational programs open to the general public. That last was held Monday night, Sept. 15, although more could be scheduled in the future.

Under the Ohio School Facility Commission funding plan, voters must approve a $4.83 million bond issue. A property tax levy average 7.36 mills would be required to repay the bonds.

The commission also requires another half-mill levy to maintain the new building, making the total levy request 7.86 mills.

If voters approve the project, Pettisville school district taxpayers would pay approximately 18% of the project, plus additional money for portions of the building the OSFC won’t pay for.

The OSFC’s $17,556,200 share of the project will come from state funding supplied primarily by tobacco settlement dollars.

Information presented to those attending the meeting indicated the project would include significantly larger classrooms and an improved and enlarged agriculture facility. The building would be highly energy-efficient, utilizing geothermal heating and cooling. It would be designed with increased student safety in mind.

Demolition

The proposal calls for demolishing most of the current building, but preserving the current high school gymnasium, the library, and a portion of the current elementary.

School board members told those in attendance they see this as a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to provide a new school facility with a minimal amount of local dollars.

The current building is in good shape for its age, but board members believe it needs replacing due to problems such as leaking windows, old plaster, old electrical wiring, and outdated boilers and water lines.

The original portion of the high school was built in 1929, with additions in 1950, 1956, 1960, and 1994.

Tom Beck, board member, said, “To my knowledge, there has never been a significant update of the plumbing, heating or electrical systems.”

The new facility would remain on the current site, and be constructed 31 feet behind the current structure, facing Co. Rd. D.

After the new building is completed, most of the current building would be demolished. The remaining portion would be joined to the new facility to make it accessible without exiting.

The current proposal calls for a cafeteria/dining area that could be converted into an auditorium for music and drama performances.

Brent Buehrer is an architect with the Buehrer Group, which has been hired to oversee the project.

He said that if the levy passes, he would hope to be able to bring the project in under budget. If so, excess funds could be used to help offset costs of the wind turbine project that is also being pursued by the school district.

The 7.86 mill levy is a 28-year levy that would cost owners of a $100,000 home an estimated $240 per year on their property tax bill.

The $4,830,000 that the levy would provide would include over $3.8 million for the local match and just over $976,000 for local requests the state will not match.

Those items that would be locally funded include land acquisition for property south of Co. Rd. D, upgraded flooring and roofing, and closing up the portion of the old building that the district would like to retain for future use.

Questions

At the meeting, questions were taken from the audience. One questioner wondered why the board chose a real estate tax instead of an increase in the income tax. Steve Switzer, district superintendent, said that the property tax had a wider base, since it included businesses and utilities.

He said a new law provided a reduced rate for senior citizens, making the real estate tax more appealing for voters.

Another audience member asked whether there would be a need for another operating levy shortly after constructing the new building. John King, board president, said that an operating levy would probably be needed whether the new facility was built or not, because Ohio’s current tax structure provides no increases to cover inflation.

The meeting lasted just under 1 1/2 hours, and tours of the high school classrooms and boiler room were offered.

Additional informational meetings may be held in the future, although the dates for those meetings have not been set at this time. – D. J. Neuenschwander


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