North Ridgeville Schools may soon consider the potential for several new school buildings, including replacing the high school and Liberty Elementary.
At Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Roxann Ramsey-Caserio said that some of the schools are at capacity, and the state said they meet the two-thirds threshold, where it will cost too much to renovate the buildings and it’s better to start over and rebuild.
The board also had its first reading on adding a substitute levy onto the ballot in November, which would combine the four emergency levies that are expiring soon into one. It would not add any new taxes for current residents, but incoming residents would pay the same as everyone else in taxes.
The substitute levy has more readings to undergo.
The last time the school put a new levy on the ballot was 2012, with a promise to residents that they would not do so again for 10 years. Ramsey-Caserio said they intend to keep that promise and that the substitute levy would keep them solvent through 2022.
If North Ridgeville Schools decided to construct new buildings to replace the high school and elementary, Ramsey-Caserio said the state would reimburse 24 percent of the costs for all buildings, due to the growth the district has seen.
The district is the third-fastest growing district in Ohio and is on track to grow at a 3 percent to 4 percent rate each year, Ramsey-Caserio said.
She said the current buildings lack adequate fire, safety and security measures and are not accessible to people with disabilities. She said if the school builds, they may need to construct buildings that have the ability to be expanded in the next 10 years, as the district will continue to grow.
The facilities planning commission, which has been meeting for about 18 months, will make its final recommendations on the district’s buildings and facilities to the board 5:30 p.m. June 4.
Ramsey-Caserio said the commission has considered four major factors in its deliberations. It has considered the high school, Liberty Elementary, the Ranger High-Tech Academy and improving performing arts, which could include a performing arts center.
North Ridgeville Schools also gathered feedback from residents about the substitute levy, the possibility for new or renovated buildings, and the potential for a bond issue to go on the ballot in November.
Ramsey-Caserio said based on the feedback, the school would need to do more to inform residents about the state of the buildings, so that people will understand the need for new or renovated buildings. She said they want to complete their goals in time to put a bond issue on the ballot in November. The bond issue would help fund potential new buildings.
The board also heard updates on its five year financial forecast. Mike Verlingo, treasurer for the schools, said it’s currently enjoying a surplus, but the district will begin incurring deficits next year as expenditures increase.
Verlingo said the possible legislative changes to the funding system are always a wildcard, but as of now, North Ridgeville probably wouldn’t lose money if the changes passed and they could gain funding. However, Verlingo said it’s still too soon to tell.
For the substitute levy and bond issue to support new buildings to go forward, the board would need to vote on and pass them through. At that point, it would be in the voters’ hands.