After 2½ years of work by community volunteers to develop a master plan for the district’s aging schools, the Upper Arlington Board of Education took the final step on June 28 to place a combined 3.75-mill operating levy and $230 million bond issue on the November 7, 2017, ballot.
The combined issue would fund the first phase of the community’s master plan and provide the needed funding to maintain the district’s high-quality educational program.
“The community-driven facilities master planning process has brought together thousands of residents to determine the best path forward for our schools, our students and our community,” Board President Robin Comfort said. “We are excited to move forward with this ballot issue to put our community’s master plan into action.”
Comfort and the four other members of the board voted unanimously on the morning of June 28 to approve the second resolution required to place the issue on the ballot. The first resolution was approved at the June 6 meeting.
This brings to a close the community-driven facilities master planning process. The board agreed to launch the process approximately 2½ years ago at the urging of a team of resident volunteers looking into the efficiency of the district during the strategic planning process.
Throughout the master planning process, thousands of community members dedicated time to serving as volunteers on building teams, attending community meetings, sharing their thoughts through surveys and hosting or attending in-home coffee chats to learn more about the process.
As finalized by the Board of Education in May, the first phase of the master plan involves:
- Rebuilding the high school facing Zollinger Road and relocating the athletic facilities on the site based upon strong community support for the principles of easier access for community members and first responders, a more efficient layout of the site and a logical location for a future addition, if needed.
- Renovating Barrington and Tremont elementary schools; rebuilding Wickliffe and Windermere elementary schools; and rebuilding all but the 1997 and 2009 additions at Greensview Elementary.
- Addressing drainage issues and installing a turf field and baseball/softball diamonds on district-owned land behind Tremont Elementary School that is adjacent to Northam Park and is utilized by many high school teams for practice and competition.
- Raising at least $5 million in private donations — the largest private fundraising effort in the district’s history — to offset the cost of the master plan to homeowners.
The finalized master plan also calls for looking into the possibility of selling the district’s central office and using the funds from the sale for relocation, potentially at the high school. It also calls for working with the community during a design phase to identify $23 million in reductions to the scope of the projects in the first phase of the master plan. The design phase would begin immediately following the passage of a combined bond issue and operating levy and involve any and all community members who are interested in participating.
The 3.75-mill operating levy, the district’s lowest operating-funding request in more than 35 years, would allow the district to continue offering the high-quality academic programs the Upper Arlington community expects for its students.
Taxes to support the $230 million bond issue, the first bond request in more than 20 years, would be collected at a rate of approximately 5.17 mills above current collections. The board affirmed that commitment through the passage of a resolution on June 28.
“The county auditor’s office will follow a prescribed method to calculate the millage estimate for the ballot,” said Treasurer/CFO Andrew Geistfeld. “The Board is committed to collecting no more than 5.17 mills in bond funding based on the assumptions we’ve shared with the community.”
The 5.17-mill calculation assumes a bond interest rate that does not exceed 5 percent and no decrease in total property valuation based on the 2017 tax year.
Combined, these issues would be collected at a rate of no more than 8.92 mills, adding approximately $312 a year in property taxes per $100,000 of current home valuation as determined by the Franklin County auditor. For the average Upper Arlington home, which is currently valued around $400,000, that would amount to an additional $1,248 per year.
Additionally, the board approved beginning the process to select construction and design professionals for the first phase of the master plan, pending the outcome of the ballot issue in November.
“As a district, we are doing our due diligence to be prepared for a community-driven design phase if voters approve the funding for the first phase of the master plan,” Chief Operating Officer Chris Potts said. “We won’t enter into any agreements with these companies unless our community approves the funding to proceed with these projects.”
For more information about the facilities master planning process, please visit www.uaschools.org/facilities.