TROY — With the Troy City Schools’ bond issue officially on the ballot next spring, the district is hosting community meetings to answer parent and the general community’s questions regarding its building plan.
Approximately 35 people attended the district’s presentation at Forest Elementary School on Thursday evening. The presentation was filmed and will be available online at troycityschools.org under “New Building Information.”
A presentation will be held in January 2020. The date and location will be released in the coming weeks.
Last Monday, the school board approved the resolution to proceed with the bond issue in the amount of $98,688,238 for the purpose of raising funds to build three new elementary schools to house grades Pre-Kindergarten through fourth grades and a new fifth- and sixth-grade middle school. The funds also include new furnishings, equipment, technology and site improvements. The bond issue is a property tax.
Earlier this fall, the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission increased the state share of funding to 42 percent ($31.8 million) of the $98.6 million project.
The bond issue is a 6.54 mills property tax levy plus a 0.5 mills maintenance levy which is required by the state for the upkeep of the new buildings. If passed, the bond issue will collect for 37 years. The current interest rate for the bonds is 4.25 percent. If the bond issue passes, once the building projects are complete, the state will write a check to the district for approximately $31.8 million, which can be used to reduce the millage amount or the number of years the bond issue is collected.
The cost of the bond issue for a homeowner of a $100,000 home is $248.52 per year or $20.71 a month.
Superintendent Chris Piper fielded a variety of questions regarding the project throughout Thursday’s presentation.
The three new Pre-K-fourth grade buildings will be located at Cookson Elementary, the new site for Concord Elementary School on State Route 718 and a new southern elementary school property that is in the process of being acquired. Each elementary school will have approximately 575 students. In comparison, currently the Concord Elementary building’s K-5 student population is 670 students.
Piper said the district plans on locating the fifth and sixth grade building at Hook Elementary School’s current site using city of Troy parkland to expand its footprint to allow off street student drop-off for both parents and buses. The middle school building will have approximately 650 students and allow the district to offer more electives such as music programs to begin at fifth grade rather than the current start of sixth grade. Piper said the district has a verbal agreement to use the parkland to build at Hook and Cookson sites.
The district recently purchased 19 acres to build a Pre-K-fourth grade building on State Route 718. The property is located at 2811 W. State Route 718 and the purchase price was $375,000. The property owner is Patty Harshbarger. Part of the agreement is to allow Harshbarger and her husband Jack Putterbaugh to have a life tenancy to continue to live at the residence located on the property.
The property will replace the current Concord Elementary School, which just commemorated its 100th anniversary on its site. The district continues to review property sites for an additional Pre-K through fourth grade building in the southern area of the district and is close to acquiring land which could be as soon as this month.
A parent asked about busing scenarios. Piper said fifth- and sixth-grade students would be riding buses with junior high and high school students before being bused to their campus.
Another parent asked why the district was including pre-kindergarten classrooms with each new elementary building. Piper explained to date, the district is not required to pay for pre-school classes. The district does provide a pre-school class run by the Miami County Educational Service Center at the Van Cleve site in a separate building. Piper said the district is planning for the space due to the state changes that may require the district to offer pre-school programming in the future and to house the current county pre-school programs with the ESC at each of its neighborhood schools.
Another parent asked if the district plans on changing its intra-district open enrollment policy. For example, if a family lives in Concord Elementary district, but has childcare in the Forest School area, that student can “open enroll” to Forest Elementary.
An attendee asked if the new schools would be built to handle the student population in the future. Piper said the state performs a population study and predicts the district’s student population to remain flat.
Another parent asked about school security. Piper said while each school building is currently equipped with buzzer and video systems, new buildings would be staged in a manner where a visitor would have to go directly to an office rather than the “honor system” currently used.
“Our buildings are safe,” he said. Piper said school designs are different due to the level of security that is now expected.
If the bond issue passes, Piper said the district will begin diverting capital improvement funds currently being used to “patch up” the district’s aging building to add air conditioning to the high school. The junior high school is the only building in the district that has air conditioning. The district’s 1.1-mill permanent improvement levy generates approximately $700,000 per year, and the district also draws from its general fund for larger capital projects. Piper gave the example of replacing 40 percent Cookson’s roof last summer at a cost of more than $300,000.
The district is still undecided on how the Van Cleve, Heywood, and Kyle building sites will be utilized, sold, demolished or re-purposed. Piper said none of the buildings will be left to deteriorate. Piper said Concord Elementary will likely be demolished and its land sold due to recent housing developments in the area. Piper said that type of scenario would allow those funds to offset the purchase price of the land it required to move the site to a more accessible location.
“We will partner with the city to see what we can do if there’s a re-purpose use that makes sense for the community and is a good thing for our city. If not, we’ll tear those buildings down and return them to green space. What we will not do is to allow the buildings become run down, an eye sore, or blighted,” Piper said.
If the district is able to keep a building it would be Forest Elementary, which underwent renovation within the last 20 years. Piper said the district would likely move a high school program,which currently is being held at a classroom inside Troy Memorial Stadium to Forest School.
Voters of Troy turned down the district’s first proposal of building two new buildings, one Pre-K through second grade and another third through sixth grade on a 60-acre site on State Route 55 and Nashville Road in 2017. That bond issue was 4.61 mills for 30 years. The cost of that issue would have been approximately $160 per year for a home with a $100,000 valuation. That ballot issue was voted down by nearly 60 percent of voters.
Piper said it was clear to the district that Troy wanted to keep its neighborhood schools. He said the current plan was the most cost effective way to give the district what they have conveyed through votes and general feedback over the last two years — neighborhood schools.
Piper said the public is welcome to contact him at any time regarding the bond issue. He is planning on hosting informal coffee chats once a month. His next coffee chat will be at 7 p.m. Jan. 15 at Starbucks on West Main Street.
Reach Melanie Yingst at email@example.com
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