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Springfield schools emphasize new school need with bond issue



Published: Mon, April 22, 2013 @ 12:05 a.m.

By Susan Tebben

stebben@vindy.com

NEW MIDDLETOWN

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.”


Comments

1bluerune(2 comments)posted 1 year, 4 months ago

I'd be curious as to how big an increase in income the 1% income tax on windfall oil lease income is bringing into the school district. With 22,336 acres it could bring in nearly $1 million in windfall tax income.

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2repeaters(197 comments)posted 1 year, 4 months ago

So consolidate with another district.....do something different to save taxpayers dollars. What are you, brain dead?

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3gdog4766(1472 comments)posted 1 year, 4 months ago

This is a tough one to swallow for several reasons. The board through it bobble head stupidity has rehired the superintendent after she retired so she could double dip. A greedy, selfish practice allowing her to now have a very substantial income. For the size of the school it is very significant. The people are already paying their school tax through both property taxes and an additional income tax. It's a tough thing to swallow to now be asked to pay a third tax. And yes, disclose how much the district is receiving from the oil boom.

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4karenm(2 comments)posted 1 year, 4 months ago

There has been no "windfall" from oil leasing. In 2008, the income tax brought in $1.7 million dollars in operating money to Springfield Local. In 2012, the year most people got their signing bonus, the income tax brought in $1.8 million dollars in operating money. There is no way to tell what part of that is one-time oil lease money. Because of the 2010 recession & State cuts, there is no excess of money in the District. The 1% income tax is equivalent to 11.19 mills, so if you add that to the property millage which is the lowest in the County, the result is 34.19 mills. That combined tax rate is LESS than what our surrounding districts of Poland, Boardman and South Range pay in property tax alone. If you lose your job in our school district or take a pay cut then your tax bill is also reduced b/c of the income tax. I understand it's hard to write two checks, but there is a bigger picture here. Our K-4 kids are in a building that leaks from the roof AND the foundation and has inadequate space, heating & safety infrastructure. This is a time when the kids need us to step up & speak out for them and their safety.

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5karenm(2 comments)posted 1 year, 4 months ago

As for the Superintendent, she took both a $40,000 pay cut and is now paying significantly more into her own health care. The two-year contract is saving the District over $80,000 while still receiving the same level of leadership and care. The BOE made sure that the best interests of the District were at the heart of that decision. The best interests of the District are also what drives the BOE to promote this Elementary School Levy b/c the state is going to chip in 48% of the cost. This levy means that $5.9 million in State money is coming back to our community to benefit our kids and our tax payers. The elementary building needs millions of dollars in renovations just to maintain basic operations. The State will not pay for renovations b/c it is throwing good money after bad. The 90 year old infrastructure of that building will continue to age and deteriorate. It is in everyone's best interest to take the state money and build new. Otherwise, you're going to be paying ALL of the cost of renovations which will not provide a building that will last in the future. When you walk in the front doors, you are not in an office or a secure space, you are in front of classrooms. When it rains water comes into the boiler room from the foundation and it drips into classrooms on the second floor. When a special needs child needs to use the bathroom there is only one option and it's on the first floor. This is appalling. It's embarrassing. It's not safe and it's not good enough. It's time to speak out for the kids. The BOE meets the second Tuesday of the month in the Auditorium -if you don't think they are doing a good job then please go and tell them. In the mean time, our 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9 year olds need our help.

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6Karenmike(1 comment)posted 1 year, 4 months ago

Our community, educators, and our CHILDREN need this. Please show your Springfield pride and help support OUR FUTURE!

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7gdog4766(1472 comments)posted 1 year, 4 months ago

Just as a rebuttal. There was no PAY CUT she was retired and rehired at a starting wage, which it should be. She also now pays for her own health insurance through her pension system, as it should be. But I read she was hired at around 80,000 per year. That means in a school district as small as that one, she was pulling down 120,000per year. That means she made more than Connie Hathorn with one tenth the amount of students and none of his troubles. Now in a district with around 1200 students she pulling down almost between 150,000 and 200,000 per year. And she will get annual raises bringing her back up to her original salary wiping out any savings.

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8tl213377(1 comment)posted 1 year, 4 months ago

As a mother of children in this district who works full-time to help support my family and has no other ties to the school, I’d like to say YES, it is “all about the children.” I have nothing shy of a long work week filled with other numerous responsibilities, so I’m not looking to give away my hard-earned money to anyone or anything. However, I would give my last penny if I thought it was the right thing to do and I have been blessed in life for living it that way. I’ve been at the bottom of the bottom before; collecting change from every nook and cranny just to get by. Nothing in my life was a “free ride”, so I understand what it means to be broke. If you feel a few dollars a month will bankrupt you and that voting no is your only option, then my heart does truly go out to you. However, if you can spare a few bucks without losing your livelihood, then I beg you to take a further look into why this levy is truly needed. The condition of that school is beyond repairing feasibly. We, as a community, can SAVE a lot of money by replacing this school now and accepting the large amount of money the State is willing to contribute. This school undoubtedly has exceeded its lifespan and this is an opportunity our community CANNOT AFFORD to lose. I am grateful that this district has been able to do a phenomenal job with my hard-earned dollars. With one of the lowest PER PUPIL local tax rates in the county, it has managed to provide outstanding results. The district, as a whole, was rated as “Excellent” by the Ohio Dept of Education and the Elementary itself was rated as “Excellent with Distinction”. So, with extremely low taxes and top of line education, I can’t ask for more.

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9AnotherAverageCitizen(1174 comments)posted 1 year, 4 months ago

I guess Springfield needs to have open enrollment and take kids from neighboring schools like South Range just voted for.

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10PCisnotcorrect(33 comments)posted 1 year, 4 months ago

And after that they will want to pass two levies for the maintenance, so its not just 1 levy it will be three, Niles has just done the new school and is now looking for money for maintenance.....so be prepared it will become the never ending story!!!

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11RTS1416(117 comments)posted 1 year, 4 months ago

Karenm..I have read elsewhere that when accepting state funds the district must agree to a maintenance levy after construction is complete. Will that be the case in your district as well?

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12Cowboyfan(105 comments)posted 1 year, 4 months ago

Again I am curious to why we built a new BOE addition if this school needed so much repair, Why aren’t we taking care of our schools. My property taxes went up for 400 a year for no reason and we have to pay 1% income tax, Springfield isn't the only tax people pay. I m sure next year they will want a maint levy and a renewal on the 1% (they will probably try to make it permanent again) we only have maybe 1200 kids in the district, I personally can't afford more taxes.

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