CUYAHOGA FALLS — Money for a new master facilities plan and additional operating funds for Cuyahoga Falls City Schools will be decided by voters in November, after the Board of Education agreed 4-1 Wednesday to place a 10-year, 9.83-mill levy on the ballot.

The funds would be divided three ways:

• 5.33 mills for a bond issue, which would generate money for the schools’ master facilities plan. In May, the school board unanimously approved the $89.7 million plan, which would include a new sixth through 12th grade school building. Property owners would be asked to pay $56.5 million for the construction, the state is expected to contribute $33.2 million, according to school officials.

• A 0.5-mill permanent improvement segment, which is mandated by state law with the bond issue, said Superintendent Todd Nichols.

• 4 mills for the district’s operating budget.

The levy would raise nearly $3.1 million a year, and would cost the owner of a $100,000 home an estimated $344 per year.

Board member David Martin voted no, saying he would prefer the issue include more money for permanent improvements. He also said he’d be more comfortable with the operating levy and bond issue being separate ballot issues.

“I’m not comfortable putting them all in one,” Martin said. He added that he had heard from some voters, who would have preferred to see two separate issues as well.

Board member Anthony Gomez said that the district “wants both and needs both.”

“If we pass the bond issue, and not the operating levy, then we won’t have the funds to do what we need to achieve,” Gomez said.

Board President Karen Schofield said that using an operating levy instead of a permanent improvement levy will provide the district with more flexibility with the money generated.

“We are going to fix the buildings,” Schofield said. “We have to. We are already doing that from our operating fund. We’ve never had a PI. Every time a PI levy has been on the ballot, it fails.”

Board Vice President Patrice White said she sees the need for the levy, but is concerned about residents on a fixed income who will struggle with the tax increase.

“You already have seniors who are having to chose between paying for food or paying for medicine,” White said. “This will be hard on them.”

This is the first of a two-step process to put a levy on the ballot. This authorizes the treasurer to send information to the Summit County Fiscal Office to confirm the millage and the amount of money it would generate.

The second step will request the Summit County Board of Elections to place the issue on the November ballot. The school board’s next meetings are at 8 a.m. July 12 and 5:15 p.m. July 15 at the Harold E. Wilson Administrative Center, 431 Stow Ave., and at 6 p.m. July 17 in the Cuyahoga Falls High School Library.

Under the current Master Facilities plan — phase one of an anticipated two-phase process — Newberry Elementary and Bolich Middle schools would be demolished and a new building for sixth through 12th grade plus the Career Tech program would be built.

The proposal was developed by the district’s Master Facilities Committee and subsequently approved by the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission.

Nichols said previously that the state facilities commission will meet July 11 to determine the final amount of the state’s share. Nichols added that he felt “strongly that they will” give the green light to the plan.

The second part of the Master Facilities Plan will involve the district’s elementary school buildings, Nichols said. The board agreed to have its Master Facilities Committee meet again to start discussions on the next segment.

In 2015, Cuyahoga Falls district voters rejected a 5.98-mill, 36-year bond issue and tax levy that would have raised $71 million for $93.5 million worth of construction, with $22.5 million being paid for by the state facilities commission..

The state’s 27 percent share of four years ago has increased to an expected share of 37 percent today, Nichols said.

 

Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, ahelms@recordpub.com, or @AprilKHelms_RPC