Batavia Local Schools heads to the ballot to ask for levy support

By Megan Alley

Batavia Local Schools is asking voters to support its tax levy request that’s on the upcoming November ballot.

The school district is seeking approval of a 7-mill levy to build new high and middle schools, among other improvements, at Bulldog Place.

The school district is trying to move forward on a plan now to seize upon almost $38 million dollars in State funding for the project.

The high school, which is 20 years old, and middle school were evaluated by the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission to determine what renovation costs would be.

“Both buildings have a number of items that have reached the end of their life cycle and are in need of replacement,” Keith Millard, superintendent, has said.

When the list came back, the cost of renovating the buildings came to just under $22 million.

“The buildings would have the ‘needs replacement’ items taken care of, but you would still have two campuses, buildings with the same layout, and no solution for future growth or other items the community has identified as important,” Millard has explained.

If Batavia puts its money together with the State’s offering, it’ll get two new buildings, a renovated athletic complex and a community center, which will be repurposed from the existing high school.

The local cost for this new building project is a little more than $23.5 million dollars, which, Millard explained, is nearly the same amount the school district would have to spend if it went the route of renovating the current buildings.

“Given these two options, the choice to build new, take advantage of almost $38 million dollars in State funding for the new buildings, and complete Bulldog Place now and for the future by investing in the current high school and the athletic complex was the one that made the most fiscal sense,” Millard has said.

A breakdown of the cost for the project shows that the total cost of the school building portion of the project is $51,363,926.50, with the State paying $37,876,403.11 and the school district paying $13,487,523.39.

Additionally, local improvements like the repurposing of the high school and the athletic facility improvements are the sole responsibility of the school district and are projected to cost $10,093,942.14.

The total cost of the whole project is $61,457,868.64, with the State paying almost $38 million.

Combine that to the money the school district received from the State for the new elementary school, and the completed plan will have brought in a total of more than $50 million dollars to the local area.

If the levy passes and the project is able to move forward, construction on the athletic facility updates will start in early 2019, with the goal of total completion by early 2021.

Design work on the new schools would take place from January 2019 through June 2020, with construction starting in fall 2020 and finishing in early summer 2022.

If the levy doesn’t pass now, the State has still agreed to kick in 80 percent of the building project costs if the bond issue passes in the next 13 months.

If it still doesn’t pass, the school district could lose the chance to use the State as a funding source; comparatively, the State funded 49 percent of the new elementary project.

By Megan Alley