At the September 19 school board meeting, a representative from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) presented different delivery methods for contracting public improvement projects. The board then voted to use the “Construction Manager at Risk” option, which now allows us to seek bids on the first stage of the new elementary construction project.
In 2001, the Milford school district joined the state’s construction program that allows us to receive funds back on new construction. The district was in need of new buildings as well as renovations to the high school and junior high; the original project included building four new elementaries; replacing Seipelt elementary; renovating Boyd E. Smith elementary; and renovating/expanding the high school and junior high.
Originally, the state intended for districts to finish the entire project and then receive the “credit” they earned. Milford’s credit amount is 28%, which means we receive 28% back on every dollar we spend on construction related to the state project.
Since districts across the state were finding it was taking much longer than projected to pass bond issues to fund construction, the state decided to provide interim credits instead of waiting until a project was entirely finished. Thus, districts are eligible to receive a credit on what they’ve already spent, so that money can be used toward another portion of the overall project.
There is a big long line of districts waiting to receive their interim credits, and Milford was one of many. Last winter, we were told it would likely be next year before our number would be called; that was then moved up to potentially later this year, which in late April, became – now! The board accepted the state money in May, 2013.
This was a huge surprise to everyone, but a welcome one. We will receive appr. $25 million, enough to replace Seipelt and also Boyd. While initial plans had been to renovate Boyd, the state is now saying it is too costly to renovate and the building should be replaced. These elementaries will be built at no additional cost to the taxpayers.
I have had some questions about what this money, which is considered bond money, not operating money, can be used for. This graphic gives an overview of what we can and can’t do with it.
Another big question with the construction is what we will do with Seipelt elementary. We currently own two pieces of land that can be used: the current Seipelt land and a piece of property farther west on Rt. 131, known as the old Gatch property. Years ago, the district understood they could not build a new Seipelt on the current land because it was not large enough. However, we now believe it’s possible to build a two-story school on that land. The board must decide what makes the most sense, given financial concerns, community interests, land usage opportunities, and future needs. We will be gathering information to help us make that decision, and also seeking community input at the appropriate time in a variety of ways.