August 29, 2014

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North Ridgeville takes another shot at school bond

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — It failed once, but school officials are hoping that by returning a 4.99-mill bond issue to the ballot, voters will change their minds and help ease overcrowding in the district.

Designed to raise more than $54 million to be paid off in 28 years, the bond issue will go before voters March 4, 2008. This was decided Tuesday evening after a unanimous vote by the school board. 

The ballot language and millage will remain exactly the same, district Treasurer Biagio Sidoti said.

“Luckily, we get two chances to go to the voters with the same approval from the Ohio Department of Education and Ohio Department of Taxation,” Sidoti said.

Superintendent Michael Tefs said the fast return to the ballot is needed because with each passing school year, student enrollment increases.

“We want to do it now because we really can’t afford to wait,” Tefs said. “We don’t know where all the kids we have now are going to go next year.”

If projections hold true, 100 new students are expected to enroll in the district each year for the next eight to 10 years. For every 25 students, the district needs to add one more teacher and classroom, Tefs said. 

“That is the same as adding four new classrooms a year,” he said. “We just don’t have that kind of space. We are over capacity in every building now.”

That’s where voters come into play. By passing the bond issue, the district can start needed construction and renovation.

During the November campaign, the project called for the construction of a new middle school, a new elementary school to replace Wilcox Elementary School and a 15,000-square-foot addition to the high school. 

Tefs said it is too early to say if this newest bond campaign will call for the same building plan. School officials will meet with the Ohio School Facilities Commission on Friday to determine if the district’s building plans should change.

The district is in line to get about 23 percent of the cost of the project back from the state. However, that money is not expected to be disbursed to North Ridgeville for at least four to five years and is contingent on voters passing a bond issue.

Waiting until then is just not an option, Tefs said.

“We can’t say if the bond issue fails, we can just get creative with addressing overcrowding,” he said. “We are overcrowded now. We are already looking at setting up modular classrooms for the 2008-09 school year, but voters have to understand we can’t keep that up forever.”

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.