CAMDEN — Preble Shawnee Board of Education members voted to move forward with renovations to the district’s Junior and Senior High School facilities during a special meeting held Wednesday, March 25.
The board approved approximately $1.4 million in expenditures, including a contract with Dayton, Ohio-based firm Energy Optimizers, USA to serve as construction managers for the project.
Renovations to the Junior and Senior High will include work on the building’s generator, plumbing, LED lighting, ceiling tiles and security features. Renovations will also involve adding air conditioning to the facility.
The district initially planned to use carryover funds from its previous operating levy to fund the renovations, pending passage of a new five-year income tax levy in March. Poll closures ordered in response to the current Covid-19 pandemic, however, have left the fate of that levy uncertain.
Under new voting guidelines announced by state authorities last week, residents wishing to vote on the measure may do so by requesting an absentee ballot through the mail. Returned ballots must be postmarked no later than April 28.
“The community has said all along that they’d like to see the carryover used for the upkeep of the building,” Superintendent Matt Bishop said. “If we keep putting off the renovation, we’ll end up with a building with end-of-life mechanical systems that need to be replaced.”
The board plans to start the renovation as soon as school is out for the summer, according to Bishop. The hope is to have all of the renovations complete by the time school resumes in late August.
“The renovation of the Junior and Senior High School is one of three main focuses for the district,” Bishop said. “The second being a facility solution for our elementary building and third being operation dollars.”
“The .75-percent five-year income tax and 3.75-mill bond levy are both critical needs to position our district for the future,” Bishop continued. “We cannot continue to operate three buildings, and the chance to take advantage of state money to cover 66 percent of the base cost of a new elementary school is an amazing opportunity for our residents.”
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, which will then be demolished. Approximately 600 elementary school students from Gratis and West Elkton will be bussed in to attend school at the new facility.
The 3.75-mill property tax levy needed to fund the school district’s portion of costs for the new building was slated to appear on the ballot on March 17. 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 Junior and Senior High facilities.
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @improperenglish