Voters will be asked to approve a massive building plan to reshape the school district and also to approve taxes to keep it operating.

The North Ridgeville school board on July 16 approved putting a maximum 37-year bond issue and a 11.72-mill replacement levy on Nov. 5 ballot.

If approved, the bond issue would raise $xxx million that will be used to build a new high school with a 1,000-seat performing arts center and a new elementary school for students in kindergarten through third grade.

The plan also calls for converting the North Ridgeville Academic Center into a school for students in grades four through eight. Ranger High-Tech Academy students would be integrated throughout the three school buildings. The Early Childhood Learning Center would be a Pre-K building only.

. The district wants voters to adopt the plan to alleviate overcrowding and replace aging facilities. Overall, the total cost of the plan is $136.6 million, slightly more than $133 million in construction costs and nearly $3 million in demolition costs, according to information from the district.

The high school building the district is seeking to replace is more than 50 years old, and Liberty Elementary, which is 43 years old. Similar to the city, the district is experiencing growth, district spokesman Sam Ameen said.

North Ridgeville City Schools has seen an increase of nearly 500 students in less than a decade, and high school graduating class sizes are increasing, Ameen said. It is the third fastest-growing school district in Ohio, according to school board president Kelly McCarthy.

"The high school is over capacity, forcing us to utilize spaces never intended for instructional purposes,” McCarthy said. “Liberty Elementary is also at capacity and does not have amenities such as a full gym or cafeteria."

The substitute levy is a continuing levy and will initially raise $10.6 million in its first year, according to the district.

The millage of the bond is 7.54 over a maximum length of 37 years and is separate from the substitute levy. By law, the bond can only raise money for capital costs such as building construction. The bond would cost residents about $22 a month, per each $100,000 assessed value of a home.

The replacement or substitute levies would not raise taxes, and pay for about 40 percent of the district’s operating costs such as supplies and equipment, essential school programs, teaching staff, and services.

"The substitute levy will not increase residents' taxes," Superintendent Roxann Ramsey-Caserio said. "Our school district remains committed to being responsible with taxpayer funds. As the district continues to grow, passing the substitute levy will keep the district fiscally sound through 2022. Both the bond issue and the operating issue are critical to providing high-quality education for our community."

Based on community growth and the condition of the existing buildings, the state would pay 24 percent of the total cost of the construction project, according to the district.

People moving into the district would pay the same millage as current residents, Ameen said.

Liberty’s new school building would cost about $47 million; a new high school would cost an estimated $82 million and the cost to raze them is estimated at $2.9 million. The performing arts center would cost $7.5 million.

No cost has been determined for the transportation building because it would fall under certificate of participation funding, a tax-exempt lease funding agreement.

The bond is capped at $132.9 million under the proposed master plan’s cost. The bond cap is based on the value of the community with growth factored in, Ameen said.

In January 2018, the Facilities Planning Commission began meeting. It included Mayor David Gillock, City Council President Kevin Corcoran and Safety Services Director Jeff Armbruster.

Two parents were included on the commission as well as several teachers, guidance counselors and principals. The superintendent, associate superintendent, treasurer and two board members also were on the commission.

"The building of new schools is not only beneficial to the community, it is a great opportunity to provide more educational opportunities for our students," said Mike McMillan, president of the North Ridgeville Education Association.

Contact this reporter at mailto:msakal@westlifenews.comor 440-871-5797

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