Updated Thu, May 1, 2014 12:45 pm
Trimble Local School District is turning to voters in the district to help secure the district’s buildings for the future.
The district has placed a 5-mill, five-year permanent improvement levy on the May 6 ballot, asking voters to support repairs to the district’s facilities.
While it is called a permanent improvement levy, Supt. Kim Jones clarified the levy would only be in place for five years, not permanently.
Jones and Treasurer Cindy Rhonemus noted that there has been some confusion as to why it is called a “permanent improvement levy.” The title simply means that levy revenue can only be used for what are considered to be permanent improvements. Items considered to be permanent improvements are buses, roofs, textbooks and technology. The funds cannot be used for salaries or day-to-day operating expenses, Rhonemus said.
The levy would generate about $193,000 annually. The district would be able to borrow up to about $485,000 — half of the money to be generated over the course of the levy — to begin the needed improvements. Rhonemus stated that the cost of the levy on a home valued at $50,000 would be 24 cents per day or approximately $7.29 per month.
“The main focus is to finish the roof replacement on the Jacksonville building,” said Jones. The building houses both the elementary and middle schools.
Jones stated that the district has received two estimates to replace the roof on the building, with both in the range of $850,000. If the levy is approved by voters the district could move ahead with section one of the roof, which has been deemed the worst part remaining to be replaced. The estimate to replace that section is approximately $574,000.
“We wish we could do all at once,” said Jones. “We have to keep buildings in repair to secure the district’s future.”
There are certain things a district needs to secure its future, according to Jones, including the saving of funds for fiscal solvency, the improvement of academic scores and dry, secure buildings. The third part is what the district hopes to accomplish in the near future if the levy is approved by voters.
While saying the buildings are not unsafe, Jones noted that the rubber roof on the building is crumbling and does leak in spots. “We hate to ask, but it is absolutely necessary to keep a dry, healthy environment,” said Jones. “We are trying to be proactive and keep it that way.”
About one-fourth of the roof was replaced a few years ago with funds leftover from a corrective action grant which was awarded to fix the high school roof. When the bids were low on the high school project, the Ohio School Facilities Commission allowed the excess funds to be used to replace portions of the roof on the Jacksonville building. The funds covered work on about 28,000 square feet, with three times that still remaining to be replaced, according to Jones.
“We know it is tight times, but wouldn’t ask if not absolutely necessary,” said Jones of putting the levy before the voters for the fourth time. “The last thing I want to do is further burden the community, but schools are an important part. It is our responsibility to keep a safe facility for children and remain financially stable.”
While the five-year forecast shows the schools operating in the black, said Rhonemous, the district is projected to enter deficit spending in fiscal year 2016. While some have asked about using the additional money in the budget to fix the roof, Rhonemus said that there is not enough to cover the cost and that the operating money is to be used to educate the children, not to replace the roof.
This is the fourth time the levy has been put before the voters, having been defeated in November 2012 as well as May and November 2013.