June 27, 2008

Hillsdale Studies Bond Issue for New Building



Record Correspondent

HILLSDALE DISTRICT -- Residents can prepare for a property tax hike if the board decides to pursue a 28-year bond issue to build a K-12 school under a Ohio School Facilities Commission plan.

The most likely scenario would be to ask for an 8.35-mill increase, which is about $253 annually on a $100,000 home. Superintendent Joel Roscoe said new operating money to run the school would be needed. The life expectancy of the building would be about 50 years.

The board is expected to approve participation with the OSFC during a special meeting in the high school media center at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The meeting could include a couple hirings.

The timing of a bond issue campaign is less certain. It could be as early as November or delayed until spring or fall of 2009.

"Action needs to be taken by July or August if we want on (the ballot) in November," Roscoe said. A recent telephone survey indicated the issue could pass, if an aggressive campaign was waged. Survey results given at Tuesday's meeting put those in favor of the tax at 43 percent. Those opposed were 42 percent with the rest undecided.

If approved, Hillsdale Elementary and Middle Schools would be sold, abated/demolished or repurposed. Hillsdale High School would be abated/demolished, partially demolished or repurposed. The new K- 12 building would be built on the high school property and accommodate slightly more than 1,000 students.

Several locally funded options include sloped roofs, upgraded flooring, additional classrooms for every day, all-day kindergarten, a multipurpose room to serve as an elementary cafeteria, additional space for combined vo-ag/industrial arts, additional locker rooms and possibly geothermal heating.

If all of these options are added, the 47 percent state/53 percent local share becomes 42 percent state/58 percent local.

If the current high school gym, auditorium, cafeteria and offices cannot be saved for future use as a community center, an auditorium added to the new building of comparable size would add $1.8 million to the total. District offices for superintendent and treasurer are local initiatives, if the current partial building can't be salvaged.

Question-and-answer sheets stated the elementary classrooms will be constructed to accommodate 25 children, which could eliminate the four-teachers-per-grade level for some grades. There has been no mention of middle school-level industrial technologies or family and consumer sciences.

Reasons cited for the building project include maximizing the state assistance available, expensive maintenance and upkeep of "outdated" facilities, up-to-date technology, interest rates are attractive on bonds, the Americans with Disabilities Act and Jarod's Law, which is going to require new safety regulations at schools.

Originally published by By BONNIE TAYLOR Record Correspondent.

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