3 districts try bond issues again
Two school districts hope for new buildings, and a third is looking to make building improvements.
By AMANDA GARRETT and DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITERS
The Boardman, Niles and Southington school districts are all hoping voters are feeling more generous Tuesday than they were a few months ago.
All three districts are asking voters to approve bond issues in the special election for either new school buildings or building improvements. Voters in all three communities rejected those bond issues in November.
Boardman voters are being asked to approve a 3.5-mill bond issue that would allow the district to borrow about 51.5 million through the sale of bonds for building improvements. The amount would be repaid with interest over 28 years.
In November, voters rejected the issue by about 1,000 votes.
Both of the Trumbull County districts want to build new schools.
Niles' 26 million bond issue would cover the local share of the cost for building three schools with Ohio School Facilities Commission funding.
Southington schools' 7.9 million facilities commission project failed by only 19 votes in the district's first attempt to pass the bond issue.
Plans in Boardman
In Boardman, plans call for improvements at each of the district's seven schools.
Superintendent Frank Lazzeri said safety is a driving force behind the need for improvements. Many buildings and facilities aren't compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Education has changed since the time when the schools were built, he explained. Federal mandates -- such as a requirement to provide special education at each school -- demand more classroom space.
A lack of space inside elementary schools, for example, necessitated portable classrooms, or trailers behind the schools.
A few years ago, the OSFC surveyed Boardman school district buildings and estimated the cost of improvements and rebuilding at about 75 million.
Because of the district's property valuation, it's eligible for OSFC to cover only 10 percent of that, meaning district taxpayers would have to pay the rest.
Even if the district wanted to go that route, it wouldn't be eligible for OSFC funding until at least 2012. By that time, the costs would likely increase, the Boardman superintendent said.
For the 37-year-old high school, improvement plans involve about 9.9 million to the building and about 3.5 million to the athletic stadium and field.
Changes include replacing original windows and creating an auxiliary gym to accommodate sports teams' practice sessions. The gym will include a wrestling room.
The stadium, complete with artificial surface, would be built on the high school grounds to enable football games to be played there rather than at the stadium behind Center Middle School.
"For the last few years, the stadium has needed improvements because of safety concerns and to bring it up to ADA standards," Lazzeri said.
The board opted to build a new stadium with up-to-date, ADA compliant features rather than continuing to fix problems. The district has been spending the money to make repairs but worries that it may soon become irreparable.
Three parts for Niles
If Niles' bond issue passes, the facilities commission will pay 38.9 million of the approximate 64.9 million cost of building two elementaries and one high school where the current buildings are located.
The district would also like to refurbish the athletic stadium and build an all-weather track, Superintendent Rocco Adduci said.
The Niles bond issue, which failed by 515 votes last November, is divided into three parts:
A 28-year, 4.1-mill bond issue to finance the construction of the new buildings.
A 23-year, 2.1-mill bond issue to finance the furnishing of the buildings.
A 23-year, 0.5-mill tax levy to finance the maintenance of the building.
"We're cautious, but we're optimistic," Adduci said about the chances for the bond issue. He said 3,300 people voted for the levy last time, "which I think is an enormous achievement. I hope we can get the 'no' voters into the 'yes' column this time."
The Southington project calls for a 108,000-square-foot building to house all district pupils, along with a new athletic complex.
The facilities commission will fund 68 percent of the 21 million project, Superintendent Frank Danso said.
"A new building would be a great advantage for our students," he said. "Right now, we have a building that's deteriorating around our students."
Southington's three parts
Similar to Niles, the Southington bond issue is divided into three parts:
A 28-year, 6.1-mill bond issue for the construction of the building.
A 23-year, 1.7-mill bond issue to finance the construction of the athletic complex and to furnish the building.
A 23-year, 1.5-mill tax levy for maintaining the building and athletic complex.
A district is approved for facilities commission funding when the cost of refurbishments to its schools are more than two-thirds the cost of building everything from scratch.
The only nonschool-related issues on the special election ballot are two Newton Township police levies. Township residents will vote on a 2-mill replacement levy as well as a new, 2-mill levy to provide 24-hour police protection for residents.