1. 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.
2. 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.
3. How is the levy proposal now different from the one the Elementary Planning & Finance Task Force presented to the School Board last fall?
The total cost of the project is now $39,800,000 compared to last fall’s cost of $41,500,000 of which $33,900,000 would have been financed through the bond issue. The plan last fall included $5.5 million in internal financing using Certificates of Participation (COPs). The COPs have been eliminated in the current plan. The district continues to build their capital improvements fund, which is projected to reach $2 million by 2020. The plan last fall also included additional improvement projects throughout the district that have been removed from the current plan to prioritize the building of the new elementary school and a few high priority projects. The current plan includes a new elementary school to house Pre-K through 5, an access drive from Route 40, demo of Jackson A and B, a new roof and insulation at the high school and a new roof, coping, insulation, air conditioning, sprinkler system, new ceilings and sound control at the middle school.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Levy Committee Chair, Jessica Corum at 740-739-3428 and they will be excited to have your help.
5. What are the cost and terms of the levy?
The bond issue on the November ballot is for $39,800,000 over 28 years and will be collected at an estimated 5.1 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.
The interest rate used in our millage calculation is based on a current interest rate estimate of 4.5%. Future interest rates could potentially increase. Every .25% increase in rate costs taxpayers $2,000,000. If approved by voters, the new tax would start January 2019.
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 5.10 mills equal $178.50 per year.
7. Why did the total cost of the levy increase?
While the total cost of the project did not increase, the total amount financed through the bond issue has increased due to the elimination of Certificates of Participation (COPs) ($5.5 million in internal financing using COPs) and an estimated 6% increase in construction costs. By removing the COPs, the district is committing to a long-term Capital Improvement Plan to address the ongoing facility needs, including those projects eliminated from last fall's proposal.
8. If the levy passes, when will see a new school?
When the levy passes in November, we will begin planning immediately and construction is estimated to begin in 2020. A school of this size will take approximately 18 – 20 months of construction. We hope to be in a new building in 2022.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. How does the district choose a builder?
Once the final design plans are complete, the project is placed for public bidding.
12. 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.
13. 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. The plan is to complete that project first. Depending on the timeline and scale of the renovations at the middle school, we will reserve Jackson A & B as swing space if needed. The timeline has not yet been formalized because the construction of the new elementary school comes first.
14. What happens if the bond issue fails in November?
If the bond issue fails in November, we will go back to the community on the ballot in May 2019.
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. 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 estimated at $13,141,250 and the cost to build new was $14,561,046. We believe it’s more reasonable to accept the recommendation of the OFCC and avoid any long-term issues with a renovated facility. 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.
18. What are the district’s plans for the current Hebron Elementary School?
We have established a Hebron Yesterday and Today Committee to explore options for the Hebron facility that will be shared with the school board and prospective developers. If you would like to be a part of this work, please send an email to Jamie Roelle who is leading the committee at email@example.com.
19. 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 and complete major facility upgrades at the high school and the middle school.
20. How is this levy different than the one we passed last year?
Last year we passed the renewal of a 5-year emergency operating levy, which supports district operations and did not increase taxes for our community. The levy that is on the ballot for November 2018 is a bond issue for a new elementary school. Passing this levy will allow us to replace aging facilities and create a 21st century learning environment for our elementary school students in grades Pre-K through 5.
21. We’re hearing about multiple levies. What is actually planned?
The district has two types of levies. Operating levies which cover the day-to-day expenses like salaries, utilities, maintenance and transportation. And a bond levy that covers large building projects and cannot be used to finance operating expenses.
- In November 2017, we passed a 5-year Emergency Operating Renewal Levy to support district operations.
- This allowed the district to move forward with the bond issue to fund the new elementary school and major priority projects at the middle and high schools, which is on the November 2018 ballot.
- In November 2019 a 10-year Emergency Operating Levy Renewal to support district operations is planned to be on the ballot.
22. What happens if the bond issue is passed for a new elementary school but the November 2019 renewal emergency levy fails?
The district will go back to the voters in May 2020 for the emergency levy renewal. Because this levy supports district operations, it is vital to maintain it.
23. 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:
- Per pupil spending for the last 3 years is just below state average
- Spending breakdown consistent with state averages
- A balanced budget for the last 8 years
- Refinancing HS bonds from the original 3.83 mills to 1.8 mills to reduce taxpayer cost
- Creating a Capital Projects Fund to address facilities needs
- Audit results
24. 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.
25. 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.
26. When will Lakewood High School be paid off?
Lakewood High School will be paid off in 2026. This is a separate tax levy assessment that will no longer be paid after that time. Today, residents are paying 1.80 mills for the high school bonds. The average taxpayer with a $150,000 home value will see a reduction in taxes of around $94.50 per year.
28. If the whole district is eventually moved to one campus, and the primary and intermediate schools combined, will fewer administrators be needed?
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.
29. Why don't you find a different way to pay for the school than raising property taxes again and again, while still renewing emergency levies?
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 last year 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. Our district is ranked 534th out of 610 school districts on the ODE equity rank list (or the 76th "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 last November, 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.
In 2026, the levy for the high school will be paid off, reducing the overall tax cost by 1.80 mills to residents in our district. Our average home value is $150,000. For individuals who have a $150,000 home, they will see a reduction of about $94.50 per year at that time.
30. Will this levy only help build a new building or will it also help lower fees and reduce supply needs?
This levy will provide a new building for PreK - 5, needed improvements at the middle school and a new roof for the high school. Because it is a bond issue, the monies provided cannot be used to pay for school operations, only for new construction or other permanent improvements.
31. 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, several needed improvements for the middle school (HVAC and ducted system, fire suppression system, ceiling and sound control, roofing, coping and insulation), and a new roof for the high school. 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.
32. 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 and taking care of needed improvements at the middle and high schools. Some of the benefits of the bond issue include: fewer transitions between buildings for grades PreK - 5 which has shown to support higher student achievement, more instructional time with fewer bus routes, the latest safety and ADA requirements for our students and better technology infrastructure. 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.