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$3 million in surplus on agenda



Published: Tue, January 11, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The school district and state trimmed one building from the construction plan.

WARREN -- Warren City Schools have about $3.4 million in excess local taxpayer funds after scaling back a building program, and the school board will discuss tonight what to do about it.

The money is on the table because one school building has been taken out of the master construction plan.

The new plan is estimated to decrease the overall cost of the jointly funded project by about $17 million, with the district's share being about $3.4 million. Ohio would have provided the rest.

One option to be discussed is a refund to city taxpayers, who approved a bond issue for the local share of building schools.

State law prohibits the district from refunding these excess dollars directly to taxpayers. The board, however, doesn't intend to keep or use any money that isn't needed, board President Linda H. Metzendorf said.

The board's meeting is at 7 p.m.

"I think, in the long run, the board and the attorneys will come up with how we can refund that money to the taxpayers," Metzendorf said.

Specifically how that could happen isn't certain and will be fodder for discussion among board members, legal and bond counsel, and parties involved in the construction, she said.

"This is absolutely a public discussion," she stressed.

State money

The Ohio Schools Facilities Commission is paying 81 percent of the district's $170 million school construction project. The school board borrowed the other money through the bond issue.

The board of education changed its master construction plan late last year. The board has decided to build four schools for kindergarten through the eighth grade, rather than five; one high school also will be built.

"Overall it's a significant savings, in building and then operating an entire building," Metzendorf noted.

The school district estimates nearly 1,000 fewer pupils through 2014-15 than initially expected when the master plan was created. Each pupil brings in about $5,200 from the state to the school district.

The new K-8 buildings will each be about 10,000 square feet larger than originally envisioned.

The state commission, Metzendorf noted, agreed to cut back the project based on the enrollment numbers and now probably won't fund its piece of the $17 million -- so, the state saves money by eliminating one building, too.

"The taxpayers gave us the money for a fifth building, which the board has decided we don't need," the board president said. "The honorable thing for us to do is to refund some of that money to the taxpayers."




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