TROY — Troy City Schools are seeking a 37-year, 6.54-mill property tax, plus a 0.5-mills for state mandated maintenance levy, to raise $98.7 million to build four new schools — three Pre-Kindergarten to fourth grade and a fifth and sixth grade middle school — on the March 17 ballot.
If successful, the state will reimburse the district $31.8 million through the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission once the construction projects are complete. The 0.5-mill levy is state-mandated for maintenance of the new school buildings.
“We are guaranteed $31.8 million if we are successful this March,” said Superintendent Chris Piper.
The cost of the bond and levy, a total of 7.04-mills, is approximately $246 a year per $100,000 home valuation.
The district broke down the total budget of the $98 million project over 37 years: residents to pay $46.6 million, businesses to pay $20.3 million; and state funding would be $31.8 million.
Troy City Schools currently have seven elementary buildings with the average age of 77 years old with Concord and Van Cleve buildings more than 100 years old.
“We will see cost savings by operating four buildings instead of the seven we currently operate,” Piper said. “Costs to maintain these new buildings will be assisted by the 0.5-mill maintenance levy, which is included on the ballot and mandated by the state.”
If successful, a new fifth and sixth grade middle school would be built at the current Hook Elementary site in the “north” part of the district.
The district plans to build new Pre-K-fourth grade elementary schools at the current Cookson Elementary site or “East Elementary.” The district acquired two parcels of land to build Pre-K to fourth grade elementary schools at Swailes Road for its “South Elementary” and a “West Elementary” at 2811 W. State Route 718, with access from McKaig Avenue, in place of Concord Elementary School.
The district tentatively plans to keep Forest Elementary School.
“At this time, the plan is for the Troy City Schools to keep Forest Elementary School. It is the building with the most recent updates, including a relatively new roof. It has the potential to be used for a variety of things, including, but not limited to, housing our high school alternative learning program, which currently is housed in a building next to Troy Memorial Stadium,” Piper said.
The district would abate, demolish or find new purposes for Concord, Heywood, Van Cleve. Cookson and Hook buildings would be demolished once the buildings on the site are complete. Concord Elementary will also be razed and future use to be determined by the board of education.
The district has partnered with the city of Troy to form an evaluation team to review the Van Cleve, Kyle and Heywood sites. If a development plan fails to come to fruition by 2023, Kyle and Heywood would be deeded to the board of park commissioners and a portion of the Van Cleve site to the city of Troy with the schools keeping parking and other amenities at the location.
Construction of the buildings would occur simultaneously with the goal of opening in the fall of 2022.
Piper said the district will benefit by lowering its maintenance costs, consolidating staff positions through retirement or vacancies and free up funds now being spent on repairs of the aging buildings.
“The district will no longer have to spend $734,035 annually on maintaining and repairing buildings that average 77 years old to keep students warm, safe and dry,” Piper said. “Additionally, Troy City Schools spend an extra $250,000-$300,000 from the general fund on maintenance costs, as the $734,035 does not cover the maintenance expenses. This is money that should be used to educate our students.”
Piper said the district also could reduce some staffing costs through consolidation.
“This does not mean cutting staff members immediately, but rather by not replacing staff members as they retire or leave the district,” he said. “Staffing is largely based on the number of students we are educating. Class sizes will be more manageable and consistent across fewer buildings than they are today, we also anticipate gaining efficiency in other areas such as food service, maintenance, custodial, and other services provided to students. We will always work to operate as efficiently as possible while providing an excellent education.”
Looking towards the future, Piper addressed that if the bond passes, it is uncertain if the district will need additional funds for general operations within the next 10 years.
“We will work hard to stay within a responsible budget but it is difficult at this point to know if we will need additional operating funds within the next 10 years. This is because there isn’t a clear and consistent method of state funding for Ohio Schools,” Piper said. “We also receive a significant part of our funding from local income tax, which can vary with economic changes. What we can say with confidence is that if we are not successful, we will need to significantly cut costs or seek new operational funds. We do not anticipate needing additional capital improvement funds during that time.”
To add heating and air conditioning to all seven current buildings would be “cost prohibitive,” Piper said. The Troy Junior High School is the only building in the district with air conditioning and the elementary buildings still have its original boiler heating systems.
“It would be cost prohibitive to just install a new heating and air conditioning system in the old buildings,” Piper said. “The electrical capacity would also have to be upgraded among other items. When the buildings were assessed a few years ago, the OFCC determined it would cost 99 percent as much to upgrade our current buildings to make them viable in the long term as compared to building new. The state will not co-fund such a project which would take away more than $31 million in state dollars and be all locally funded. That is clearly not a financially responsible thing to do.”
Some voters expressed concern with the district’s purchase of property at Swailes Road due to potential flood issues. The district has a FEMA flood plain map on its site which shows the property is not in any special flood hazard area, floodway area or other flood prone areas.
Another efficiency would be student transportation without the added cost of adding to its fleet.
“We expect to be more efficient with school transportation now because of the new plan,” Piper said.
Another efficiency would be electives such as music could be offered at the elementary and middle school level without the added cost of equipment across numerous buildings.
To review the district’s presentation regarding the bond issue, visit www.troy.k12.oh.us and select “New Building Information.”