TIPP CITY — On March 15, the Tipp City Exempted Village School District is asking voters to vote yes on Issue 5, a bond issue for the construction of a new elementary school.
If approved, this 3.98 mill bond issue would generate almost $30 million and cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $139 a year. The interest rate for the 37 year bond would be 4.4 percent.
The proposed plan would construct a new prekindergarten through third grade facility on the site of Broadway Elementary School. Construction would likely take two years.
“With that we’re really able to replace the outdated, deteriorating buildings, which happens to be Central, Broadway and Nevin Coppock eventually,” Superintendent Dr. Gretta Kumpf said.
Supporters of the issue cite a 2015 Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFFC) assessment of the building that reported issues like asbestos, structural deterioration, insufficient heating, and obsolete electrical systems.
“Our present buildings really have outdated, insufficient windows, some of the plumbing cannot be repaired … they can’t even find the parts to replace it,” Kumpf said. “It has served the district well, but it’s time for a change.”
In addition to health and safety concerns, Kumpf said that a new building would be technologically up to date and accessible to all students. She also added that it would be beneficial to the students to have grades prekindergarten through fourth in one building.
Resident Don Watson said he and others in Tipp City believe that this is the wrong plan for the district.
“We’re concerned citizens against school waste. We’re not against schools in the least,” Watson explained. “We think it’s the wrong plan at this time.”
Watson questioned the school board’s decision to decline funding from the OFFC, saying the district missed out on an opportunity to receive millions in state funding and on the oversight a state funded plan would have.
The previous board voted in May 2015 to decline 25 percent matching funds from the state on the grounds that the state’s requirements would increase the cost and place restrictions on the project.
He also expressed concern that the district has no plan to address its other facilities, including the middle school and the stadium.
According to the district, voter approval of Issue 5 would also generate funding — as much as $750,000 — for improvements to L.T. Ball and the middle school. The board has discussed a multi-phase plan for the district that would address the other buildings at previous meetings, including a possible return to the ballot in 2018.
Watson also said he would also prefer to see Broadway and Tipp Central preserved because of their local significance.
“If they don’t want to renovate the old buildings, then don’t waste them. Let someone else renovate them,” Watson said.
According to Kumpf, the OFCC’s estimated the total renovation costs for the district’s elementary schools to be more than $26 million. That would be about 85 percent of the funding generated by the bond issue, when for a difference of about $3 million, the district would get a brand new building, Kumpf added.
“We’re really beyond Band-Aids at this point,” she said.
The district’s architectural firm, Ruetschle Architects, has designed a new elementary school inspired by schools from Tipp City history. The proposed exterior plans reflect details from those older school buildings, including the Castle, built in the 1890s, and Tipp Central, built in the 1910s.
“We tried to be very thoughtful and respectful of heritage,” Kumpf said of the design.
The two story, red brick building would have brickwork details near the roof that recall similar brickwork on the exterior of the Castle. Like that building, which was demolished in the 1960s, the new building would have a grand entry with arches that also echo some of the Castle details.
The proposed new building would also have some elements inspired by Tipp Central, which still stands on the Broadway site. The plan is to preserve or recreate the stone medallions that decorate the outside of Tipp Central, which read “Education” and “Character.”
The new school would be a symmetrical building with an entrance centered on the intersection of Broadway and Sixth Street. The proposed site plan, which has been shown at previous school board meetings, also features added parking and a separate gym, cafeteria and auditorium building connected to the main school by an enclosed hallway.
The new building will have an estimated lifespan of about 75 years and has been designed to be flexible, regarding future renovations and technology.
Because the new building will house prekindergarten through third grade students — a combination of both Broadway and Nevin Coppock — the district is considering a name change. The new building could be called Tippecanoe Elementary School, like the middle school and the high school.
If the levy passes, the buildings currently on the Broadway site would be demolished over the summer of 2016. Modular classrooms would also be installed outside L.T. Ball that summer.
The new building would likely be ready for students and staff at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year.
The school board recently selected a construction company in preparation for the building of a new elementary school. If the bond issue is approved in March, the district will begin contract negotiations with Turner Construction Company.
Reach Cecilia Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 552-2205.