June 9 – North Ridgeville

With state foundation aid from the Ohio Department of Education predicted to be significantly reduced for the North Ridgeville City Schools, and a nearly $400,000 reduction in property tax benefits from the county, a trip to the polls in November or soon thereafter to vote on a bond issue is not likely. At least that’s how things are shaping up, according to the Board of Education and Superintendent Craig Phillips.

“People came up to us after the last board meeting and asked about a bond issue,” Board President Maria Sycz told board members at their June 1 work session. “The question is, where do we go from here? What does that time frame look like? This is not a three-month process. It comes down to what we want to put up (on a ballot) in what order.”

Phillips called the topic of district facilities “open ended” and reiterated Sycz’s belief much has to be done before a bond issue comes before voters.

“We will have to re-engage the community,” Phillips said. “What kind of partnerships do we want to seek out?”

Before a plan for a district campus concept could even be considered, he added, all current school facilities would have to be evaluated and their disposal, if any, determined.

“Money would have to be spent to get those buildings appraised,” he said. “There’s a lot of work to be done … and lots and lots of community engagement. The other issue you can’t ignore is the economy right now. We have to always keep that in mind.”

He talked about a change in state guidelines which

allows for “segmentation” of construction plans, where districts can begin building facilities without having to do them all at once.

“Now you can take phases of your project and build it,” he said, adding there is no “crystal ball” when it comes to state funding. “You would be eligible for the reimbursement for those parts. Conceptually, 10 to 15 years from now, we could come back and do other parts of that project.”

Board Vice President Frank Vacha urged caution when it comes to offering a bond issue on a future ballot.

“What I don’t want to do is go out to the community and say we’re going to build something … and then have the state pull it (the funding) out from under us,” Vacha said. “I think we need to have answers to what we would do with the old buildings.”

He went on to say he believes there are “two different camps” of opinion in the public over what should be built, one being a “Taj Mahal” campus and the other a traditional “square buildings” design.

Phillips reminded the board the state mandate about kindergarten must be fulfilled for the 2011-12 school year, requiring additional space and funds. The district secured a waiver for the upcoming school year.

“We’ve got to look at the all-day kindergarten issue,” Phillips said. “That has to be part of an architectural discussion.”

Sycz said the next board work session at 5:30 p.m. July 6 will be devoted to “pretty much a facilities discussion.” She encouraged board members to forward questions, thoughts and ideas to her or to Phillips prior to that meeting. Work sessions are open to the public and take place in the North Ridgeville Education Center conference room.

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