School Levy Increase Meeting

Photo submitted
This is an artist’s rendering of the proposed addition. The brown building in the left of the picture is the current elementary. The taller building in the background is the FEMA gym. At the right side of the photo would be the proposed car-rider drop off/pick up on the Maple Street side.

By Shari Harris

Voters in the Licking School District will see Proposition B on the Nov. 5 ballot. Administration and school board members met with fifty to sixty voters at the Fox Community Room to answer questions about the measure in a Town Hall Meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 15.
If Proposition B passes, it would be an 85-cent increase to the capital projects levy. It would fund an elementary expansion, eliminate elementary trailers, increase safety and security, expand the cafeterias and repair existing facilities. The levy would sunset after 20 years, in the tax year 2040. The taxpayer would see an increase beginning with their December 2020 taxes.
Some of the questions and answers from the meeting are summarized here:
If it passes in November, when would construction begin? Possibly summer or fall of 2020, or at least by April 2021, depending on financing. The first phase of work would be on the elementary end of campus because the need is more critical. The elementary construction would occur at the same time as renovation to secondary buildings including roof and window work and flooring replacement. After the classroom expansion is complete, expansion to both cafeterias would be scheduled. Eventually, plans exist to add safety and security to the secondary campus.
What construction work is being done on the school currently? Insulation is being installed beneath the metal roof over the art room and library, to reduce accumulation of condensation and moisture that leaks onto the drop ceilings.

Photo submitted

The floor plan of the proposed elementary expansion, with 
the “Gym” on the diagram referring to the FEMA gym, 
and with the “Connector” at the bottom going 
to the current elementary building.
How many different plans were considered? Two to three firms were looked at before deciding on Ireland Architects. The school board settled on the most cost-effective plan that met the needs. The square structure for the expansion was decided on, as it was most cost effective. Placing it 30 feet from the current elementary and connecting it with a hallway avoids the extra cost of establishing a firewall between buildings yet still links the buildings. The expansion would adjoin the FEMA building, as the cost of establishing a firewall between the expansion and the newer FEMA building would be much less. No fluff, no extras were included in the plans. It would be a 23,250 sq. foot addition, and cost nearly $5 million.
What if I’m on a fixed income? Application forms for a tax credit for those eligible are available at the superintendent’s office.
How about raising the rate incrementally instead of all at once? To avoid “nickel and diming” citizens, previous administrations and the district waited until it was absolutely necessary to request the funds.
Isn’t it the people that make the school, not the building? Teachers offered input about the increased opportunities in learning afforded with the construction of the new science building. Anecdotes were provided of teaching in the modular buildings with students shoulder to shoulder across the room. Others spoke of the increased difficulty of maintaining the teaching talent if the levy fails. Without the levy increase, operating costs would increase in order to make repairs to aging roofs and flooring, to replace 25-year-old trailers and to continue critical preventative maintenance. This would require the District to decrease spending on staff, supplies, transportation and extra-curricular programming.
Has a contract been established, with a guaranteed price of construction? No firm contract has been established. The school board built in an approximate 10 percent cushion to estimates in case costs go over estimate. If the cost is less than anticipated, the financed amount could be paid off quicker. The funds can not be used for pay increases or other operating expenses.
Why weren’t meetings held earlier? Several meetings have been held and discussions about the expansion have taken place during school board meetings which are open to the public.
Will local contractors be considered? Local contractors will be considered as much as possible.
How do I know how much it will cost me? The Proposition B Facebook page or the superintendent’s office has rate charts available to help determine how much it would cost each tax payer.
How will this benefit homeschoolers? Everyone who has property pays taxes regardless of whether they have children enrolled in the school. This may include homeschoolers and anyone who doesn’t have school age children. The success of the community is directly linked to the success of the school. Better education affects the success of students after graduation. This can affect home rates, business successes, the attraction of new industry and generally helps the entire community thrive.

The school board and Superintendent Cristina Wright urged the community to ask questions. They invited attendance to school board meetings to stay informed regarding plans and are continuing to distribute information about Proposition B leading up to election day on Nov. 5.
      Photos Submitted



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