Superintendent's Message

Exploring the Possibility of a New School Building at Berne Union

At the December 11 Board of Education meeting, an agenda item was voted on that could have a great impact on our school and community.  Agenda item IX was approved by a 5-0 vote letting the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) know that our district will explore the possibility of building a new school. The OFCC must vote at their meeting in January or February to approve our resolution interest and set a percentage rate that the state would give us toward a building project. Right now, that percentage is 38%, meaning that the school district must find a way to pay 62% of the costs for a new school. That 38% is expected to drop much lower, meaning right now is the time to lock in a percentage rate the state would give us.

The December 11 resolution is showing intent to participate in the Expedited Local Partnership Program (ELLP), just one of the programs a district can use to build new buildings or renovate existing buildings. The ELLP basically allows schools to start the process, develop a master plan, and start building without receiving state money, using their own money. Schools that use ELLP get reimbursed for expenditures that the state approves ahead of time. To do a traditional Classroom Facilities Assistance Program with the state would take several years and with our state percentage eventually going lower, would cost the district several million dollars. 

Approving the resolution does not guarantee a new building will happen but based on our most recent financial forecast, it makes the possibility appear much greater that we can build a new school.  Many schools throughout Ohio are seeing an increase in revenue due to new gas pipelines and transmission plants being constructed within school district boundaries. Those new gas lines and transmission plants are viewed as taxable property, similar to yearly property taxes you pay for your house and a large portion of that tax money goes to school districts. Preliminary reports show that we might be able to use that extra tax money to build a new school and operate it without asking property owners in our school district to fund our share of a new school. We would ask that our income tax levy currently in place does not increase or decrease but continues permanently instead of being voted on every ten years. It is a possibility that the company owning the gas pipelines and transmission plants will appeal and ask for a lower valuation of their property, meaning less in taxes they pay.  We should have a much more clear picture in February or March on the tax values of gas property. Once the state sets that final tax rate and we know what revenue is coming our way, we will better know our options. The importance as mentioned above, is to get our OFCC approval and state share set as the increase in revenue from the gas company would eventually drop the state’s percentage they contribute to our project.

If all things align as we hope, many engagement meetings will take place so staff and community can give input and participate throughout the whole process from start to finish. I know many of you eventually will have questions so please see me or Treasurer Kirk Grandy as we move through this process and explore options available to us. 
As always, please contact me at (740) 746-8341 or email should you have questions or concerns. 

Richard Spindler

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