New Elementary School
The reason for our bond levy is summarized in our vision:
Lakewood. . .
. . .Home
The only way we can achieve that vision is to get our buildings up-to-date and provide our students with the best possible learning environment. It is our goal that once they leave our district, they will always view Lakewood as home.
On November 6, 2019, the Lakewood Local Board of Education voted to approve the final resolution to go back on the ballot for a new elementary school in March 2020.
Over the last two years Lakewood community members, parents, staff and students have worked together to outline plans for the new elementary school that will house Pre-K through 5th grade. While the plan was voted down in previous elections, we have listened to community concerns and have adjusted the original plan.
The issue placed on the March ballot is for $31,300,000 for 28 years and will be collected at an estimated 3.8 mills at an estimated 4% interest rate. The updated bond places priority on building a new elementary school. All improvements to the middle school and high school have been removed.
1. How is the bond levy proposal different than the ones in Nov. 2018, May 2019, and Nov. 2019?
The March 2020 proposal remains at a cost of $31,300,000, to be collected over 28 years at an estimated 3.8 mills. The interest rate is estimated at 4%.
The November 2019 proposal eliminated all facilities improvements to the high school and middle school, allowing the district to reduce the cost to $31,300,000. The bond issue remained to be collected over 28 years at an estimated 3.9 mills. The interest rate was estimated at 4.25%.
In May 2019, the total amount of the bond remained the same, $39,800,000. The school board decided to remove the high school roof from the list included in the bond issue because the overall construction cost increased. The estimated interest rate had also increased since November from 4.5% to 5.25%. The increased interest rate increased the millage rate to 5.40 mills compared to 5.10 mills in November 2018.
The bond issue on the November 2018 ballot was for $39,800,000 over 28 years and was to be collected at an estimated 5.1 mills. The bond proposal included a new PreK-5 elementary school and improvements to Lakewood Middle School and High School.
2. Why is a new elementary school needed?
A new elementary school is needed to provide the best education possible for our students. The physical school structure has a tremendous impact on students, staff and community. A recent article from Penn State University shared, “A growing body of research has found that school facilities can have a profound impact on both teacher and student commitment and effort. With respect to teachers, school facilities affect teacher recruitment, retention, commitment and effort. With respect to students, school facilities affect health, behavior, engagement, learning and growth in achievement… without adequate facilities and resources, it is extremely difficult to serve large number of children with complex needs.”
Our aging facilities at Hebron and Jackson present many challenges for staff and students. These challenges include: limited educational space, climate control and air conditioning, safety, technology limitations, electrical challenges, lack of air conditioning at Hebron, traveling outdoors between buildings at Jackson, among others. As the buildings continue to get older, maintaining those facilities also becomes more costly. It is for these reasons that we are seeking a new facility for our elementary school students.
3. How did the district decide to build a new school rather than renovate existing buildings?
The Elementary Planning Team, led by architects specializing in educational facilities and including community members, staff and students, worked together over several months to explore options to address aging elementary school facilities and educational goals for the future of Lakewood schools. During the study, it was determined that the cost to renovate the school would be more than 80% of the cost to build new. A new building is expected to last for 50 years. The OFCC (Ohio Facilities Construction Commission) recommends building new when the cost to renovate is 66% or greater than the cost to build new. This information led the Elementary Planning Team and the School Board to decide that building new was the best solution.
4. I want to help with the levy. How do I get involved?
Thank you for your interest in supporting the levy. Please send an email to the Lancer Pride Levy Committee at [email protected]
5. What are the cost and terms of the levy?
The bond issue on the March ballot is for $31,300,000 over 28 years and will be collected at an estimated 3.9 mills. The bond millage is an estimate. Voters are approving the project description, the maximum amount of the bond and the maximum term of the bond. The millage is only an informational item and the tax could change depending on the interest rate at the time the bonds are sold.
6. What is a mill?
A mill is 1/10 of one penny. Ex. A mill produces $1.00 in tax income for every $1000 of assessed property value. Example: A $100,000 home times 35% (the assessment rate) equals assessed property value of $35,000 divided by $1,000 equals $35.00 per mill. $35.00 times 3.9 mills equal $136.50 per year.
7. What is the process to design and build the elementary school when the bond is approved?
When the bond passes, the district will hire an architect and design firm. The design firm will engage district stakeholders, gather information from previous facilities assessments, and initiate design input meetings. It’s important that our community has input into the features and design of our new elementary school.
8. How will the district choose an architect?
The district will follow an outlined selection process to choose an architect. That process includes:
- Advertising that we are seeking qualified design professionals.
- Interviewing the firms so they can share their philosophies with respect to project delivery and working with the Board; their practices with respect to quality control measures for the drawings and specifications; and the firm’s approach to construction administration.
- When an architect is selected, the Board will approve the awarding of the contract to the chosen architect.
9. How does the district choose a builder?
Once the final design plans are complete, the project is placed for public bidding.
10. How will the district assure that the project will not be over budget?
We are planning conservatively for the construction of the new school by planning at the high end of the estimated cost and planning for contingencies. Additionally, we will use a Construction Manager at Risk (CM-R) program. This allows us to establish a Guaranteed Maximum Price before we begin the construction. That price is the aligned upon cost of the project. At that point, the CM-R would cover any project costs that are driven by errors, corrections or contractor-driven changes. The district would be responsible for any district driven changes or unforeseen conditions of the site. Funds to cover district costs would come from the district’s contingency budget that is planned into the construction cost.
11. What will students do while the new building is being constructed?
Students will remain in their current buildings during the construction of the new elementary school.
12. How old is the Hebron building?
The original building was built in 1914 with a gym addition in 1934 and classroom additions in 1952, 1954 and 1956.
13. When was Jackson Intermediate built?
Jackson A was constructed in 1968. Jackson B was constructed in 1972 with additions in 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1976.
14. Why does the district plan to tear down Jackson?
When the OFCC estimated renovation and new construction costs at Jackson, their recommendation was to build new. The renovation cost was 83% of the cost to build new. The Jackson facility, while not as old as Hebron, has significant issues including: a leaking roof, leaking foundation, inconsistent heating and cooling, electrical problems, multiple buildings requiring 3rd grade students to travel outside for gym, lunch and specials, as well as significantly smaller classrooms than the state standard. Additionally, having all Pre-K – 5th grade students in one building significantly reduces operating costs (for example, one kitchen instead of two) and reduces student transitions between buildings.
15. What are the district’s plans for the current Hebron Elementary School?
At this time, the Board has not had a discussion about the plans. Once the bond is passed, the Board will make a determination.
16. Is the central office moving to the “main campus” as well?
This plan does not include moving the central office to the “main campus.” The priority of the bond issue is to build a new elementary school.
17. What happens if the bond issue fails in March?
If the bond issue fails in March, the school board will determine the best time to go back to the community with the bond issue.
18. How do we know that the district spends our money wisely?
We value the money that our community provides for our district and strive to make wise decisions that support student learning and achievement. Some indications of wise spending include:
- District's overall financial position has been strong
- Per pupil spending for the last 3 years is consistent with state averages
- Spending breakdown is consistent with state averages
- Refinancing HS bond two different times during the life of the bond saved taxpayers in excess of $1 million
- Creating a Capital Projects Fund to address facilities needs
- History of audit results
19. Why does the district give abatements?
Many abatements do not require the approval of the District, however, from time to time the District is asked to approve tax incentives for businesses. In that case, offering the abatements encourages businesses to move into the district. That means more jobs for the people in our community as soon as the business moves in and, while the property tax benefits for our District may be delayed, we will receive taxes from those businesses down the road.
20. What percentage of total property taxes do local businesses in the district pay?
Almost a third of the district property taxes collected are paid by businesses located in the community. Therefore, about a third of the taxes needed for the bond issue will come from local businesses as well. As business continues to grow in the community, they could further offset taxes from residents needed to repay the bonds.
21. When will Lakewood High School be paid off?
Lakewood High School will be paid off in December 2026. This is a separate tax levy assessment that will no longer be paid after that time. Today, residents are paying 1.7 mills for the high school bonds. A taxpayer with a $100,000 home value will see a reduction in taxes of $39.50 per year.
22. If the whole district is eventually moved to one campus, and the primary and intermediate school
When we combine the primary and intermediate schools, we will review all staffing needs as a result of the new building. Our goal is always to ensure proper supervision and safety of our children and provide a quality education.
23. Why don't you find a different way to pay for the school than raising property taxes again?
We understand that no one likes to see their taxes increase, that’s why we involved a group of community members in helping to determine the best way to fund a new school. The group met for several months with a financial consultant through the Finance Taskforce to explore different funding options. After learning about how schools are funded, exploring different funding options and sharing their recommendations with the school board, the school board determined that a property tax was the most affordable and fair way to fund the bond issue. With a property tax, local businesses will pay around 33% of the taxes, bringing down the total cost for our home owners.
We also reviewed what we can fund through state monies through the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission to release the burden on our local taxpayers. For Fiscal Year 19, our district was ranked 537th out of 610 school districts on the ODE equity rank list (or the 73rd "wealthiest" district) with a local share percentage of 88%. A school district’s priority for state assistance from the OFCC is based on the district’s three-year average “adjusted valuation per pupil.” The lower (higher number) we fall on the ranking, the less likely to be eligible for state money.
The emergency levies, like the one the community approved in November 2017, fund district operations; things like salaries, utilities, maintenance, etc. and are not allowed to be used for the building of a new building. Those monies are what keep the district running. While we will continue to need to renew the operating levies, those levies have not increased and we do not anticipate needing additional operating funds.
24. Will this levy only help build a new building or will it also help lower fees?
This levy will provide a new building for PreK - 5. The monies provided cannot be used to pay for school operations, only for new construction or other permanent improvements.
25. How can I trust the district will use this money like they say they will?
The money provided by the bond will be used to build a new PreK- 5 elementary building and several needed improvements for the middle school (HVAC and ducted system, fire suppression system, ceiling and sound control, roofing, coping and insulation). We are sharing this list of priorities to ensure the community is aware of what the bond issue will cover. Community members are also invited to be a part of the design process after the levy passes where we will work with architects and contractors to finalize building design and costs. Decisions regarding architects, contractors, costs, etc. will be made in our public Board of Education meetings which all community members are also welcome to attend.
26. How will this one new building benefit kids across the district?
The bond issue will benefit kids across the district by providing a new facility for PreK - 5th grade. Some of the benefits of the bond issue include: ADA compliance; maximized instructional time; increased saftey of students; improved access to technology; a more comfortable learning environment; more opportunties for teacher collaboration; less upkeep/maintaince compared to older buildings. We’ve also been able to address some areas at the high school and middle school without additional tax dollars. Those improvements include: safety vestibules at both buildings, renovated science and life skills labs at the middle school, renovated and added bathrooms at the middle school and a student success center at the high school to support career and college readiness. With the work we’ve completed so far and the work we’ll be able to complete when the bond issue passes, all of our buildings will be in good working condition with air conditioning, classroom spaces that support 21st century learning needs, effective technology infrastructure and flexible spaces that will allow for expansion in the future as needed.
27. Why do we have a preschool? How much revenue do we receive and what is the cost?
The Lakewood Local School District is required by federal and state law to provide a free and appropriate public education to all preschool children who are eligible for special education services between the ages of three and five. Early intervention for these students enhances their development by laying an educational foundation that leads to greater opportunities in the future and provides assistance and support for their families. We feel very fortunate to offer these services for our community and are proud of the work our preschool staff does to support our students. In recognition of a commitment to quality and an ongoing dedication to the learning and development of children, our preschool has earned the 5 Star Step Up To Quality Award from the state of Ohio, the highest rating possible.
Eligibility is determined through a multi-factored evaluation completed by qualified school staff. These services are funded by state and federal preschool monies as well as local dollars. Fifty-percent of the preschoolers in the program are 4-5 year olds without disabilities. These children provide typical role models for our students with disabilities. The cost for these students is partially covered through state early childhood grants, local dollars, and private pay. We have 64 students in our preschool program.
The total preschool related revenues received by federal, state and private pay is estimated at $278,000 for last school year. The related expenditures are estimated at $413,000. That leaves $135,000 covered by local dollars.
28. Why did the school board vote to move forward with the stadium when there are higher priorities?
The Board of Education’s decision to address the stadium was based on several key factors. The first was the pressing need to deal with safety and ADA concerns related to the old bleachers in the stadium. The second was the opportunity to have the booster organization pay for the cost of the new playing turf, at the same time the rest of the stadium was improved. And the third was district’s financial ability to finance the project at a lower cost than might have been the case if the district waited several years to make the improvement.
Because of the decision to do the project when we did, the district was able to borrow at 2.87%. As a result, the project is being repaid from the existing revenues of the district, thus not requiring an increase in taxes from our existing taxpayers. The stadium project is one of many projects like the new safety vestibules at the middle and high schools, the student success center at the high school, the renovated science and life skills labs, the restroom renovations and additions and the asbestos abatements at the middle school, that have been carried out by the district in the past few years. All of these projects have been funded without raising taxes, and ultimately have led to reducing the amount of the bond issue that is now on the ballot. Without the financial foresight to address these projects with existing funds, the bond issue would in fact be many million dollars more.
29. What is the total cost of the stadium project and how is it being financed?
Cost of Stadium improvements (includes addition of heat in 2019 - $47,450): $3,035,195
Cost of Turf: $458,000
Total Cost of Stadium: $3,493,195
Lease Purchase Agreement: $2,500,000
Cash Paid by the District: $535,195
Donation of Turf by the Athletic Boosters: $458,000
LEASE PURCHASE AGREEMENT
- 10 Year Repayment Period – Last Payment 12/1/2026
- Financed with Capital One Public Financing
- Interest Rate 2.87%
- Average Annual Payment Is $309,000
30. Does the District receive the monies from sign advertisements at the stadium?
The advertising on the scoreboard and press box were created and paid for by the Boosters for all large donors to the stadium turf project. As it relates to the signs that hang on the back of the visitors’ bleachers and on the interior fencing around the stadium, those are fundraisers for football (in the fall) and track (in the spring). Those sign designs and fund collections are applied to the Athletic Boosters for the respective team to use as needed.
31. How many extra classroom spaces are planned for the new elementary school to support growth?
Based on our enrollment projections, classrooms have been planned to accommodate current classrooms and teachers at Hebron and Jackson, including our two preschool classrooms. The square footage calculations are based on the current OFCC design manual specifications for those spaces, as well as other areas in the school (offices, gymnasium, cafeteria, kitchen, etc.). We have planned additional square footage comparable to 2 classrooms that could accommodate additional enrollment. The new building would also be designed in such a way to accommodate adding on to support future needs.
32. How much would the stadium repairs have cost vs. building a new one?
Because we decided to do a complete project at the stadium, we worked to determine the best ways to renovate the existing facilities and what to build new based on how the stadium would supports students, staff and the community. Given the state of disrepair of both the bleachers and track indicating replacement was truly needed, repairing them was not considered. The bleachers and track (including curbing, drainage and inside fence) were bid out separately and were awarded accordingly: Bleachers to Dant Clayton at $692,122 and Tract to The Motz Group, Inc. at $677,150.
The old concession stand was renovated to continue to operate as a restroom facility and a trainer room was created. We chose to build a new building that includes the concession stand, restrooms, ticket booths and storage to make the best use of the stadium, as those needs could not be fully supported using the old concession stand building.
Elementary Planning Team & Finance Taskforce share their recommendation to address Lakewood's facilities needs
As part of the Elementary School Planning process, community members and staff learned about school finance and worked together to propose a financing recommendation to the Lakewood Board of Education. Notes and articles from their meetings can be found at this link.