United eyes $25 million in state funding to build new school
HANOVERTON — The United Local School District is eligible for state funding that will make possible the construction of a new pre-K-12 campus without asking for additional support from residents.
Schools Superintendent Lance Hostetler Friday issued a press release stating the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) will soon make available nearly $25 million for the district to address its school facilities. The funding will be combined with an estimated $5.2 million the district will begin collecting each year beginning in January from the newly created Nexus Gas Pipeline that runs through the district and includes a compression station located within the district, as well.
“The process to address our aging facilities, and the way they serve our educational needs, has been ongoing in this district for nearly 20 years,” Hostetler said in the release. “District taxpayers have voted against raising tax rates a number of times through the years and we have proactively pursued and planned creative options to fund our local share. The intersection of a significant state funding offer and newly generated property tax revenue makes now the right time to address the future of our facilities.”
According to the press release, the new property tax revenue is going to local townships and county governments in addition to United Local Schools. The revenue has been vetted by statewide and local officials, in coordination with the Nexus Pipeline, to assure the reliability of the funds, long-term. This annual revenue will decrease slowly over 30 years, but is expected to generate $24 million in the first five years alone.
The OFCC is responsible for guiding capital projects for state agencies and Ohio’s comprehensive public K-12 school construction and renovation program. The state’s offer of funding is for the new construction of a single, pre-K-12 building to house all of the district’s students. As part of the new construction offer, the district has the option to keep or demolish any portion of its existing facilities.
The state, using data from previous projects and the construction market in the area, has identified the cost of the program to be $40,170,227. Based on local property values and the number of students served, the state has offered to cover $24,503,869 (61 percent) of the project. The school district would be responsible for $15,666,408 (39 percent).
The funding offer percentage is based on local property values and the number of students served. Projections show that local property value is significantly increasing, while the total number of students the district serves is decreasing. These shifts mean that the state offer will continue to drop when and if another offer is made in the future. For example, in the 2011 tax issue defeat, the state offered to cover 79 percent of construction.
In the release, Hostetler said the school has committed to dedicating the required funds needed to complete a long lasting pre-K-12 facility that will have impactful educational benefits for the next 50 to 100 years in the community. Based on local feedback, the district has set a goal for the local share to be paid within a 10-year timeline.
According to the press release, the district has created a Community Advisory Team to consider the details of the plan and offer to make sure the project meets community needs and desires. The 50-member team is made up of school administrators, teachers, parents, community business leaders and district residents.
The Community Advisory Team, in coordination with the school district, has created a website to keep the public informed about the process– www.BuildUnitedLocal.com. District residents are encouraged to learn more on this site and submit their feedback for consideration by the team.
Hostetler said aspects such as what portions of the current building will be kept and where the new building will be located will be discussed by the Community Advisory Team.
The timing of the project will depend on when the funds would be available through the OFCC.