July 18, 2022: This article has been updated to reflect the increase in valuation of Lakota's 25 buildings from $400 million to $632 million.
Lakota’s master facilities committee met for its monthly meeting on May 9 to review participation in the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission’s (OFCC) Expedited Local Partnership Program (ELPP), as well as review a proposed timeline and community engagement opportunities.
Chief Operations Officer Chris Passarge provided updates from the OFCC with the committee, which includes all five school board members. “We received good news from the OFCC regarding the partial funding we would qualify for by enrolling in ELPP,” he shared. “Because our enrollment has increased, as well as property valuation, we are now at a 29% reimbursement rate from the State.” This is an increase from 25%.
In order to participate in ELPP, the Board must pass a resolution to enter the agreement. The agreement is non-binding on the district’s part, meaning that if funding sources are not secured within one year, a requirement by the OFCC, the district can reapply.
How much will each plan cost?
Each spring, the OFCC updates its “cost sets”, or estimated prices for renovations and new buildings, for school districts. Districts use this information to budget for facilities plans. Lakota’s Board of Education members recently selected four master plan options to bring to the community for feedback, each estimated to cost around $632 million.
Passarge shared with the committee on Monday that the OFCC has recently updated its cost sets for 2022 and the prices have increased significantly. “Typically, the OFCC increases its cost sets by three to four percent each year. This year, we are looking at a big jump: 17.27% for new construction and 20% for renovations.” The district is submitting its four plan options to the OFCC for revised budget estimates.
How will Lakota pay for the final plan?
In order to fund the final Master Facilities Plan, which the Board will decide on in the coming months, Lakota will need to ask its community to support a bond issue. Initial conversations about facilities financing took place at the March 28, 2022 committee meeting. Lakota Treasurer/CFO Jenni Logan, along with John Payne and Andrew Brossart from Bradley Payne Municipal Advisors, presented financing options to the Board.
At this meeting, Payne explained ballot language that would be required for two different bond millage scenarios - one with the district fully funding the plan and one partnering with the state through ELPP. He emphasized that ballot language would not be the additional amount collected from taxpayers, and could be misinterpreted by voters.
Payne explained that the language used on a ballot is strictly prescribed and must state the full millage amount required by the bond. In reality, because Logan and her team have restructured its debt payments, the net amount increase to taxpayers will be much less. This millage amount would further be reduced if the Board approves a resolution to partner with Ohio through ELPP.
These financing scenarios will be updated once the district receives revised costs from the OFCC.
Community Feedback Wanted
It is crucial that the Board receive input from community members about each plan. Passarge, Logan and Superintendent Matt Miller will invite community members to open meetings where they will share more information about the need for a facilities plan, the four options selected by the Board and next steps.
The meetings will be held at different schools throughout the district. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions, share feedback and take building tours. “Just driving by our schools won’t give you a clear picture of the state of the building,” said Passarge. “It’s important that our community gain a better understanding about anticipated costs for updating and maintaining our aging facilities.” The average age of Lakota’s facilities is over 33 years.
The first three community meetings are scheduled for:
- May 31, West Freshman School
- June 1, Hopewell Junior School
- June 6, Woodland Elementary School
All meetings will start promptly at 7 p.m.