With state cash gone, educators consider November ballot issue

Last updated: June 06. 2014 12:57PM - 66 Views
By - vurbanik@civitasmedia.com



Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-TribuneOberlin board of education members search for a solution for moving forward with new school designs without state money.
Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-TribuneOberlin board of education members search for a solution for moving forward with new school designs without state money.
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The sudden disappearance of state funding for a new preschool-through-high school building has forced Oberlin educators to shift their plans.


The district, which had been braced to receive up to $7 million for building costs from the state, now isn’t expecting any of that cash for an estimated five to seven years.


Oberlin City Schools superintendent John Schroth said there are 140 school districts ahead of Oberlin that have deferred or delayed their projects when their numbers came up and can come get the money next around.


Oberlin is ranked 488 out of 612 school districts statewide by the Ohio School Facilities Commission and last year the state funded all the way down to the 484th school.


With state funding out of the picture, the district must now choose whether to stay in its aging building or build a new school with all-local cash.


“We have to decide by our July meeting how we are going to move ahead if we want to have anything on the November ballot, whether that be for a phase one of a master building program or to help fund the additional renovations and repairs we are going to need over the next five to 10 years,” Schroth said.


School board member Anne Schaum said she has heard concerns from residents that the district needs to do something because it cannot maintain the facilities it has.


“They felt uncomfortable assuming that we’re going to get state funding and we shouldn’t go forward assuming that’s going to happen,” she said.


Barry Richard, president of the Oberlin board of education, said he sees a financially unsustainable picture painted in the district’s five-year forecast unless something is done now.


“The idea of district consolidation has been at our fingertips since before 2010,” Schroth said.


He said he wants to form a consolidation committee for the 2014-2015 school year to study the pros and cons of closing a school and combining grades with another building, at least temporarily.


The board will discuss whether to place a measure on the November ballot at its June 17 meeting at 6 p.m. at 218 North Pleasant St.


Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ONT_valurbanik.

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