During its regular meeting on June 10, 2019, the Westerville City School District (WCSD) Board of Education approved multiple agenda items intended to continue progress toward the possible construction of two new schools; expansion, renovations and repairs at other schools; and enhanced safety and security measures for every school in the district.
The Board passed resolutions to accept findings from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission’s (OFCC) “Facilities Assessment Report” and meet requirements of OFCC’s Expedited Local Partnership Program (ELPP). OFCC conducted its assessment of all district schools over the past two years. The Board’s action to accept these findings and the OFCC Master Facility Plan supports the development of an estimated project budget and scope. The OFCC Master Facility Plan is separate from, and is not to be confused with, the district’s 10-Year Facilities Master Plan (FMP).
Approval of the ELPP resolution maintains the district’s eligibility to receive financial credits from OFCC through its Classroom Facilities Assistance Program. The Board passed an additional resolution seeking state approval to issue bonds not to exceed $120 million, and to request voter approval for such funding during the November 5, 2019, general election.
Current enrollment projections indicate the district will grow by an additional 1,300 students over the next 10 years. Board members on April 15, 2019, established a scope and timeline for the district’s new 10-Year FMP to manage enrollment growth, as well as address critical repairs, renovations, and other facility needs across the district.
The first phase of the FMP includes construction of a new elementary and new middle school in the southern end of the district; renovations and classroom additions to Whittier and Annehurst elementary schools; renovations to Hawthorne Elementary School; addressing facility needs at Emerson, Hanby and Longfellow elementary schools; and increased safety and security at every school in the district.
WCSD Treasurer/CFO Nicole Marshall said the November issue would fund the first phase of the district’s facilities plan, as well as several years of operating costs. She noted that is has been 19 years since WCSD last needed to request voter approval of a bond issue to build new schools and seven years since the district last needed to request new operating dollars.
“We’re nearing the point where we would need to seek an operating levy regardless of our facility needs,” Marshall explained. “I’ve recommended to the board that we ask voters to approve operating funds at the same time we request bond funds, and that we should delay collections on the operating levy by one year.”
Marshall added that seeking a combined issue that provides facility and operating funds together would allow WCSD to avoid a situation that happened years ago, when the district built new schools but could not open them due to a lack of operating funds.