By Susan Tebben
The Springfield Local School District is citing a low Ohio Schools Facilities Commission’s rating as one of the main reasons the district needs passage of a bond issue on the ballot in May.
The OSFC, part of the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, rated Springfield’s elementary school as the seventh-worst building in the state, which qualified the district for the Exceptional Needs Program (ENP). The ENP is a building- replacement program for districts with facilities that rank below the 75th percentile on a yearly School Facilities Eligibility Ranking list.
“It was built in 1923,” said Debra Mettee, Springfield superintendent. “At this point, it would be more money to renovate the building than it would to rebuild it.”
An addition was put on the building’s first floor in 1952 and to the second floor in 1957, along with other additions in 1988 and 1989.
“The maintenance worker up there didn’t expect the boilers to make it through this last winter, but we patched them and made it work,” Mettee said.
Despite the need, the 2-mill, 37-year construction bond issue and a 0.5-mill, 23-year maintenance bond issue failed to pass in November.
The issue didn’t pass, Mettee said, probably because voters were being conservative.
“They felt we’d taken care of our buildings through the years,” Mettee said.
Because of the ENP, the school district would at least be able to build a new elementary school if the bond issue passed.
However, with the new vote coming up, the valuation of property also has gone up, decreasing the amount of assistance the state will give for the project.
Initially, the OSFC proposal to replace the building was to provide 65 percent of the costs from state funds, meaning the district would have to pay only 35 percent of the cost.
Now with increasing property valuation, the state will pay 48 percent, or $5.9 million of the $12.3 million project, with the 0.5-mil maintenance levy also passed.
The bond issue will bring a local share of $6,398,261, at a cost of $38.13 per $100,000 of property valuation per half, officials said.
The district has taken a grass-roots approach to garnering support for the bond issue this time, according to Maria Hoffmaster, coordinator of special services for the district.
“It’s community people, mostly parents, but concerned community members as well,” said Hoffmaster.
Hoffmaster and Mettee both emphasized the importance of having a new building for all children, but Hoffmaster said better-equipped special-education classrooms would be part of a new school for the more than 100 students with special needs.
The infrastracture needed for student standardized testing within the district is also not there because of the age of the building.
Nothing can be hard-wired as far as current technology.
“We have to prepare our kids for jobs we don’t even know about yet,” Hoffmaster said. “But we can’t do that without the technology.”