CAMDEN — Preble Shawnee School Board members voted to move forward with tax levies that would help fund construction of new school facilities, as well as renovations to existing facilities, at their monthly meeting Nov. 14.
The board voted unanimously to move forward with plans for a new K-5 school building at its Sept. 12 meeting. The new facility will be constructed on the same property as the district’s current K-5 building in Camden. Approximately 600 elementary school students from Gratis and West Elkton will be bussed in to attend school at the new facility as well.
The 3.75-mill property tax levy needed to fund the school district’s portion of costs for the new building will appear on the ballot in March. If approved, the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) — which oversees all construction funded by state dollars – will vote in July to approve their contribution to the project. Approximately 66 percent of the base cost of the facility will be funded by state dollars, while the remaining portion will be paid for with funds from the proposed levy.
If approved, the levy would tax property owners in the school district at a rate of approximately $3.75 per $1,000 of assessed property value for a period of 25 years.
A proposed income tax levy, meanwhile, would tax school district residents at a rate of .75 percent, less than $1 for every $100 of annual income, for a period of five years. Proceeds from this levy would fund the general operating costs of the school district, thus freeing up funds for planned renovations to the district’s Junior and Senior High School facilities.
Planned improvements to the high school could begin as early as this summer, according to Bishop, including new air conditioning systems, installation of energy-efficient LED lighting, and enhancements to the facility’s main entrance that would provide additional security for students and school personnel.
“It’ll be a lot safer,” superintendant Matt Bishop said, stating that the new entrance will funnel visitors into a waiting area staffed by a School Resource Officer, and will help ensure that “no adults other than staff members will be in the building’s common areas during the school day.”
The board previously faced the decision of whether to build a new K-5 building in Camden while renovating the existing Junior and Senior High facilities, or to demolish both buildings and build a new K-12 facility in a more central location.
“We feel pretty strongly that the plan we went with is the way to go,” Bishop said. “It’s been about a two-year process to get to this point.”
“We’ve listened hard, and we’ve been transparent,” Bishop said of the process leading up to the board’s decision. “We’ve tried to make this plan reactive to what people have been telling us along the way. We feel like this is the plan the community is going to support.”
If approved, the proposed tax levies would go into effect in January 2021. Construction of the new K-5 facility, while impossible to predict with certainty, is expected to take around three years to complete.
“If everything goes well, it could potentially be fall of 2023 that we’d be walking into the new elementary,” Bishop said.