LIMA — Embarking on a new elementary school building and another possible project later, Bath schools and its voters would be greatly helped by legislation recently introduced by state Rep. Matt Huffman, R-Lima.House Bill 504 would revise the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission's equity list, meaning the state would pick up more of the share of a Bath project and that the money would likely come sooner. Bath is currently responsible for 71 percent of a project's cost. Huffman's office said that would drop to 54 percent, with the state paying the rest.“It is a big deal,” Bath Superintendent Dale Lewellen said. “Theoretically, it could make the difference when we get our OFSC money from us having to ask voters for the difference say between 4 or 2 mills, or 3 or 1.5 mills. You can imagine the difference in those two numbers to voters.”How much money a district gets for a building project depends on how much local revenue it has coming in. A district with higher local revenue does not get as much as others or as soon. It's why Lima schools, a low-revenue district, was funded so early, with the state kicking in 90 percent.The formula established in the late 1990s when the commission started includes revenue coming from tangible personal property tax from business. Bath was getting tax revenue from places like Ford and Proctor & Gamble. The tax makes up 33.78 percent of the district's equity calculations.Legislators got rid of the tax in 2005, but did not change the OSFC funding list or how it is calculated. It looks as if districts like Bath are getting more money than they really are, Huffman said. Using the “actual” numbers, he said, is the fair way of doing it.“At a point where school districts need to think of how they conserve funds, it just wasn't practical to continue to use a ‘ghost' number in calculating a school's wealth,” he said. “This will lower the cost to local taxpayers in the Bath school district and shift more of the burden to the state. We have schools eager to start construction, bringing jobs to their area, and there is a fund set up for this. Superintendents and school boards are ready to build so we should get these projects going.”Bath voters supported a bond issue in March for a new elementary school. The district will get about $19 million in credit from the state for a middle/high school project later on. The complete district project is estimated to be $55 million. Lewellen warned that no decisions have been made about the future possible project.“Even if our number comes up, we have to decide very carefully whether it is a good idea to go out and try to go forward,” he said. Lewellen said the district is about 10 years away from getting funding. He suspects Huffman' proposal could move that up a few years. It will depend on how many projects OSFC funds a year. Moving up even a couple of years, Lewellen said, would be helpful.“Buildings are going to continue to age and educational needs are going to continue to change,” he said. “If we can take advantage of our state dollars and update those buildings sooner, yes, that makes a big difference.”Shawnee schools could also eventually benefit from the bill, Huffman said. Under the current equity list, the district would have to pay for 84 percent of a project. That would drop to 77 percent. Superintendent Paul Nardini said the district is so far down the list to get funding that it likely wouldn't mean much. When the list came out, Shawnee was 586 out of 614 to get funding. Tangible personal property taxes make up 25.5 percent of the district's OSFC calculations.The bill would also give schools in the Expedited Local Partner Program a chance to sign the best deal for the district.Huffman worked closely with the Ohio School Boards Association, Ohio School Facilities Commission and local superintendents to craft the legislation. The bill has two chances of becoming reality. Along with being a stand-alone bill, House Bill 504 has also been rolled into House Bill 508, which includes other tax changes. Huffman introduced the same idea four years ago when he got a provision put into the state budget bill. It passed through the House and Senate but Gov. Ted Strickland vetoed it. Huffman expects better success this time.“Four years ago there were other school districts objecting to it because schools like Bath and Shawnee would jump ahead in the rankings,” he said. “Now, fewer school districts are affected because a lot of those have already built. There is less competition among some school districts.”
Tara Cutlip, 21 and pregnant with her second child, was shot and killed Saturday in her Bahama Drive home. Loved ones gather in front of Tara's home to remember her and speak out against domestic violence.