News Column

Officials planning for new school

May 26, 2014

By Carl Ryan, The Blade, Toledo, Ohio



May 26--Officials in the Northwood schools began planning to build new facilities in 2007, and now have their goal in sight. But much remains to be done.

With the passage of a combined construction levy and income tax, the district's timeline has Northwood students moving into their new prekindergarten-through-12th grade building on the Lemoyne Road campus in the fall of 2017. Preparations are under way already.

"Between now and this fall, we'll be working on getting the financing package together," Superintendent of Schools Greg Clark said, "and at that point we'll be working on getting an architect."

Mr. Clark said another year would be needed to get construction plans together and solicit bids.

"We're looking at breaking ground in the fall of 2015," he said.

Voters on May 6 approved the tax request by 671 to 654. This came after the same request was turned down by a mere three votes in November. The 17-vote margin of success this time was not lost on the Northwood Board of Education, which issued a conciliatory statement to district residents last week.

"We recognize that many in our community were reluctant to take on any new tax burdens at this time, and we share their concerns and will not forget them, and we are pledged to do our best to keep our district fiscally sound and to give our children the education they need to succeed at an affordable cost to our taxpayers," it read in part.

The board went on to explain that replacing the district's old buildings with a single, up-to-date, energy-efficient school offered the best opportunity to keep future operating expenses and taxes under control.

Voters approved an additional 4.9 mills and a 0.25 percent tax on earned income to pay for the district's share of the $33 million project.

The Ohio School Facilities Commission will pay $11.5 million of the new building's cost. The tax request this month was the district's last chance to qualify for the state funds, which will provide about 35 percent of the financing.

The combined tax will yield about $869,000 in annual revenue and cost the owner of a $100,000 home with an earned income of $50,000 about $300 a year in additional tax. The earned-income tax is permanent, while the property tax expires in 37 years, after the construction debt is retired.

The board's plan includes demolishing the mothballed Lark Elementary building and Olney Elementary. The high school will be partly demolished, with the gym and auditorium preserved for public use, Mr. Clark said.

Once construction starts, Olney students could be housed temporarily in Lark, depending on what the cost would be.

"We don't want to put a lot of money into a building we're going to tear down," the superintendent said.

Contact Carl Ryan at: carlryan@theblade.com or 419-724-6095.

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(c)2014 The Blade (Toledo, Ohio)

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Source: Blade (Toledo, OH)