Tipp City Exempted Village Schools, whose leaders are asking voters May 7 to approve a bond issue for new classrooms, were notified Friday by the Ohio School Facilities Commission about a potential problem. CONTRIBUTED.

State letter to Tipp City schools raises questions about bond issue

Tipp City Exempted Village Schools leaders are asking voters May 7 to approve a bond issue for new classrooms.

“Commission staff now understands that the district intends to use L.T. Ball Intermediate only as a PK-5 facility and apparently that has been the district’s intent even though the Tipp City Board of Education passed a resolution and entered the ELPP Project Agreement stating it was PK-6,” David Williamson, executive director, Ohio Facilities Construction Commission wrote.

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The letter was sent to district Superintendent Gretta Kumpf, who released a statement Monday afternoon stating the letter was mailed to her late in the day Friday.

“The district has been in regular contact with OFCC throughout the facilities planning process. This latest correspondence appears inconsistent with prior communcations. The district’s superintendent, treasurer and Board of Education continue to review documents,” the statement said.

Board of Education President Andrew Venters referred all questions to Kumpf.

The Tipp City school board now plans to meet in special session at 6 p.m. Tuesday to discuss the new letter from OFCC and what’s next.

Williamson noted that the district submitted a master plan for a PK-6 facility along with the ELPP agreement but information on its website and a video of a public meeting outline a plan for PK-5.

District leaders are asking voters to approve a bond issue to raise $35.75 million over 27 years for renovations and an addition at L.T. Ball. The project would replace the aging Broadway and Nevin Coppock elementary buildings.

The district has worked with the OFCC on participating in the state construction funding program called Expedited Local Partnership Program. The district anticipates 35 percent funding, some delayed until the district’s number for state dollars comes up on the funding list.

Williamson said, “It remains the district’s decision whether to construct a PK-5 or a PK-6 facility. However, it must be pointed out that the district’s decision has potential budget and credit consequences.”

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The amount of those consequences was not immediately available although the letter noted that a recalculation of the co-funded budget for a PK-5 building would be approximately $6 million less than a building to use as a PK-6.

That number was based on the formula used in deciding budgets based on projected student enrollment and square footage allowed per student, said Rick Savors, media relations manager, OFCC.

The OFCC goals include working with districts to get facilities that benefit students and the district while making sure the program is fair with the more than 600 districts statewide, Savors said.

Williamson said the OFCC staff recommended the district amend its facilities master plan and project agreement “to better reflect the intended use. If that does not occur, then Tipp City needs to understand that it will not receive the potential credit that it currently expects upon entering the classroom facilities assistance program.”

The posting of Williamson’s letter on social media set off public comments, including calls for the district to pull the bond issue from next week’s ballot.

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The Miami County Board of Elections said Monday afternoon it had received a couple of inquiries about removing bond issues from the ballot from residents but not from district representatives.

District resident Anne Zakkour questioned district officials about the discrepancy between the master plan and the plan being presented during an April 9 community engagement meeting.

Zakkour said she was concerned that the information in the master plan submitted to OFCC had not been included in previous presentations to the community.

“I think the district master plan should have been rolled out from the get-go,” Zakkour said.

She said more time is needed to share complete information with the community and suggested at that time deferring a decision until the November election.

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