The Warrensville Heights City School District Board of Education approved the first resolution to place a combination bond and permanent improvement levy on the November 2018 voting ballot. The bond and levy will finance phase two, a new middle/high school, of WHCSD’s Master Facility Plan.
The July 9 board approval occurred after three community meetings where attendees discussed WCHSD needs, project costs, the impact to taxpayers and locally funded initiatives (LFIs) which are not state funded. LFIs are funded 100 percent by WHCSD because the State of Ohio only funds the base cost of a new building.
Locally Funded Initiatives
“When thinking about the base cost, think about a buying a car,” said Superintendent Donald J. Jolly, II. “Adding amenities, such as heated seats, a sunroof and satellite radio could be seen as the LFIs.”
Examples of LFIs for WHCSD include auditoriums, athletic facilities and expanded classrooms to fit the district’s preference for classroom size. In a community meeting, led by Owner’s Representative Steve Zannoni, attendees prioritized a list of top 10 LFIs. Zannoni, the project manager, reported to the board that the top seven of 10 determined LFIs account for 94 percent of the total LFI budget. Thus, the board proceeded with a $68M project budget.
The new sixth through 12th grade school will include the following LFIs:
• new athletic facilities inclusive of a tournament gym
• additional academic areas
• expanded parking surfaces
• auditorium renovation
• new school bus garage
• and additional classrooms to account for projected growth at the phase one pre-K through fifth grade school
How much does it cost?
The overall Master Facilities Plan includes $20.8M of state funds from the OFCC and a total of $85M raised by WHCSD, including the $68M bond/permanent improvement PI Levy. WHCSD’s Master Facility Plan has utilized existing streams of revenue for phase one – a new elementary school for pre-K through fifth grade scholars. Phase one was financed with no increase to taxpayers.
Phase two utilizes an efficient financial model to minimize the overall tax increase to tax-payers. WHCSD is partnered with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) to receive $12.5M with the school district funding 68 percent of the base cost. The combination bond/permanent improvement levy will generate $68M to complete the entire project. Business property owners account for 75 percent and residents account for 25 percent of total tax revenue for the WHCSD. For a taxpayer with a $60,000 home, the bond/permanent improvement levy is estimated to cost $147 annually or $12.25 monthly.
“This is a historic time for the Warrensville Heights City School District,” said Superintendent Jolly. “Within a few short years, there will be all brand new facilities in the district for each of our 1700 scholars and the entire Warrensville, North Randall and Highland Hills community.”
The first board-approved resolution will be submitted to the Cuyahoga County fiscal officer for certification on millage for the combination levy. The board will complete the process the second resolution at the July 23, 2018 board meeting.