TIPP CITY — The Tipp City Board of Education has found the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) would fund approximately 37 percent of the district’s preferred facilities plan, which the board discussed during a work session on Monday.
Superintendent Gretta Kumpf said, in discussions with the OFCC, the district can pursue a preferred plan that would feature Pre-k through fifth grade in one building, sixth, seventh and eighth in another and ninth through 12th grade at the high school.
This plan would include the renovation and expansion of L.T. Ball Intermediate School by approximately 94,000 square feet to house pre-kindergarten through fifth grade students. According to a draft budget presented to the board Monday evening, cost of the L.T. Ball addition and renovation project that the OFCC would be able to co-fund is estimated at $24,631,420, bringing the OFCC’s portion to approximately $9,113,625.
Other construction costs beyond the addition, renovation, and basic building construction of the L.T. Ball project brought the total construction costs to over $40 million. Those additional costs included items like the abatement and demolition of Nevin Coppock, Broadway, and the former Tipp City Central Intermediate, as the L.T. Ball site would replace those outdated buildings. Non-construction costs were estimated at approximately $6.5 million.
The draft budget suggested a bond levy of 5.59 mills for a 30-year term, which would be a cost of approximately $195.72 yearly or $16.31 monthly for a home valued at $100,000.
In order to pursue this facilities plan and OFCC co-funding, the board would have to pass resolutions that include a master plan and project agreement with OFCC. The board would also need to have two readings of a levy issue completed and approved by August in order to get the levy on the November ballot.
Board member Simon Patry said a recent Tipp City school facilities committee meeting addressed questions he had regarding the facilities plan, such as pointing out the cost of renovating the Broadway and Nevin Coppock buildings would be almost equal to the cost of constructing all new buildings. He said the cost of renovating Broadway would be approximately 98 percent of the same price to construct a new building, and the cost of renovating Nevin Coppock would be approximately 89 percent the same cost of a new building.
Patry spoke in favor of keeping the momentum going on this preferred plan with OFCC in order for the district to receive that state funding.
Board member Anne Zakkour brought up the approximate 80-plus acres of land the district owns that the board referred to as Coppock woods, of which approximately 20 acres is protected land and approximately 40 acres is suited for constructing or selling. Zakkour suggested looking at that land as a possible site for a school, saying the city is growing west and there are traffic concerns at the Nevin Coppock and L.T. Ball site.
Patry spoke in favor of pursuing the preferred plan in order to keep site investigation and other engineering costs down.
Also during its work session, the board discussed open enrollment within the district. Kumpf gave a presentation on the open enrollment students, which are students who attend Tipp City schools but live outside of the district. There are currently 83 open enrollment students, of which 53 are students of staff members.
In regard to costs, Kumpf did not bring up any specific figures to costs related to open enrollment students, saying the district provides services to students “as needed.” Board president Theresa Dunaway later said the district has spent money on accommodating open enrollment students in the form of hiring a new fourth-grade teacher last year.
The district receives more funding from the state for open enrollment students, but only for open enrollment students from contiguous districts as Tipp City school district’s policy currently only permits students from contiguous districts. In regard to the remaining open enrollment students who are not from contiguous districts, they are able to attend the district as their parents are staff members and it was negotiated with the district to allow them to attend. For the 67 open enrollment students from contiguous districts, the Tipp City school district receives $6,020 per open enrollment student from the state, amounting to $400,000. For students located in the district, the district receives $2,439 per student from the state. If the district changed its policy to allow requests for open enrollment students from any district, the district could receive additional funding from the state for those students.
“We’re very careful about how many (open enrollment students) we will add,” Kumpf said, explaining the district monitors the its capacity for additional students.
Kumpf, who said she was in favor of continuing to allow open enrollment students, also said it could be a way to deal with the state’s EdChoice program, under which students students at Broadway and the middle school could choose to attend a private school and receive tuition from the state in order to do so due to the state report card results for those two buildings. Kumpf said allowing open enrollment students would be a way to counteract the loss of funding for students who choose to attend private schools through the EdChoice program as the district would no longer receive funding for those students who leave.
Zakkour questioned why students would enroll through open enrollment if other students were choosing to leave through the EdChoice program. Kumpf said they many have varying opinions on how well the state report cards actually reflect the quality of the schools. She added, “Others may come for other reasons.”
When Patry asked if the other board members had concerns in regard to open enrollment, Zakkour said that, while she saw it as a way to bring in more money from the state and bring more diversity to the district, she heard that “the process has been somewhat abused” by teachers who bring their children to the district through this program. She said it was “creating some ill will” between teachers with students in the district and others who do not, saying some of the teachers with students in the district may be bringing them in the buildings when it’s not permitted and that their children being there with them may be “a distraction” to those teachers.
The board is expected to consider continuing to allow open enrollment students at a future meeting.
The board also discussed the Ohio Superintendent’s Evaluation System and Stagecrafters on Monday evening.
The board also went into executive session at the beginning of its meeting for the purpose of considering the employment and or discipline of a public employee or official.
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