VINCENT-The final resolution needed to place a failed school construction bond issue back before Warren Local voters was approved by the board of education Monday, with a special election planned for Aug. 3.
The board unanimously approved the resolution to again ask voters to provide 42 percent of an estimated $72 project, with the Ohio School Facilities funding the rest.
The money would go toward building three elementary schools, a high school and a junior high.
The special election in August is expected to cost the district at least $20,000, since no other issues are going before county voters, but Warren Superintendent Tom Gibbs said it's worth the expense if the district is able to get $42 million from the OSFC.
Without it, the district will be instead "investing millions in Band-Aids" for its aging buildings, said Gibbs.
If the bond issue continues to fail, a five-mill permanent improvement levy that would generate about $1.2 million a year would be needed to cover the most necessary expenses, including new roofs and boilers, he said.
"That would fund just emergency needs and wouldn't do anything to update our facilities or to change the quality of instruction," Gibbs said.
Gibbs pointed out that in Washington County only about 35 percent of high school students go on to some form of secondary education and only about half of those students finish the next step.
In other areas of the state, where student have access to more technology, AP courses and other resources that rate doubles, he said.
"Our students don't have all those things," he said. "Our teachers do a heck of a job...but we need to do better and our facilities are holding us back."
That includes electrical systems that can't support today's technology, he said.
"I want to remind people who went to the high school in the '60s and '70s that they were going to a brand new school that was state-of-the art," Gibbs said. "Someone paid for that. Now it's our turn."
The bond issue would cost the owner of home appraised at $75,000-the average in the district-$201.21 a year.
Gibbs reminded those at Monday's meeting that to calculate the cost, residents must use the amount for which their house is appraised for tax purposes. A calculator is available on the Warren Local Web site and the Washington County Auditor's Web page.
Cliff Pettey of Fleming, the only district resident to comment at Monday's meeting, said he felt the district's construction plan could be streamlined and require less from residents.
His No.1 concern with the bond issue was that three elementary schools were being built when two might suffice, due to flat or declining population projections in the area.
"I would love to support this levy," he said. "But you're going after a Cadillac solution in a Chevrolet district is what it looks like as a taxpayer. It's hard to imagine it would cost less to operate five buildings than four."
The board had initially debated whether to only put two elementary buildings in the plans, members said.
"We struggled with that but felt it was a community decision," said board member Bob Allen. "(In each community) people would say 'It's OK if we go to two schools as long as we don't lose ours.' We're stuck in a situation where we have to decide how to do the will of the community and make prudent decisions financially."
Gibbs said the new building plan shouldn't require hiring extra staff and that there are cost savings in operating new buildings, including construction of buildings with less roof space, sloped roofs and more energy efficiency.
The entire flat roof at Warren High School now is 100,000 square feet of roof and takes $2 million to replace.
Also at Monday's meeting:
Revenue is dropping slightly over the five years for the district but additional budget cuts are planned, said Treasurer Melcie Wells.
In fiscal year 2010, the district saved $216,000 by eliminating six jobs through attrition and there are plans to save another $354,000 in fiscal year 2011 the same way.
As the reductions are made, classes are being re-figured to keep class sizes low, said Gibbs. There are no district classes projected to have more than 30 students next year. he said.
Recent patches on the roofs have held through heavy rain so it made sense to wait until after the bond issue passes or fails in August, then re-bid the project if necessary, said Gibbs.
The supplemental position will likely cost between $15,000 and $20,000, said Gibbs, while the full-time position had cost the district more than $90,000, including salary and benefits.