$29.5M Issue 22 calls for Firelands school construction

Staff Report

An expensive question faces Firelands Schools voters Nov. 3. Issue 22 will ask land-owners to cover roughly 80 percent of the $37.5 million cost of building a new sixth-through-12th grade building on Vermilion Road.

If adopted, a 5.2-mill bond issue and half-mill maintenance levy would be on the books for the next 36 years. Officials say it will cost $204 per year for every $100,000 worth of property you own.

That’s an extra $17 per month.

Firelands must generate $29.5 million to cash in on a “free” $6.2 million offer from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission.

The district plans the new school campus, a fieldhouse, and updates to its wastewater treatment facility. The plan is a response to an independent assessment that found South Amherst Middle School and Firelands High School to be “beyond repair” — meaning updates to state building standards would cost more than two-thirds the price of new construction.

If Issue 22 passes, ground would be broken in roughly a year and the school would be ready for students in Fall 2019, superintendent Mike Von Gunten wrote in The Firelands Express district publication.

“Waiting any longer to address our facility needs will cost our district and our taxpayers more. Over the last several years our district has seen the state contribution amount continue to decrease. In addition, as our buildings continue to age, more resources will need to be diverted away from instructional programs in order to address the cost of maintaining our facilities,” he said.

Von Gunten said day-to-day finances are stable and he does not expect to ask the public for operating cash until after 2020.

Staff Report