Tipp City won’t go to voters for new school taxes this year

Tipp City schools officials want a master facility plan to address all buildings, including the L.T. Ball Intermediate School (pictured). CONTRIBUTED

Combined ShapeCaption
Tipp City schools officials want a master facility plan to address all buildings, including the L.T. Ball Intermediate School (pictured). CONTRIBUTED

Any possibility of the Tipp City school district going to voters later this year for funding for new elementary classrooms is gone.

District Superintendent Gretta Kumpf told board of education members April 27 several things that would need to happen before the board could approach voters with a plan and funding request can’t be done in time.

Her comments followed a conversation earlier that day with an Ohio Facilities Comstruction Commission staff member who has been working with the district.

“He said everything is a big ‘if’ with the uncertainty” of state budget cuts and OFCC office reopening’s following the COVID-19 closings and stay at home orders, Kumpf said.

The building project would provide classrooms to replace the aging Broadway Elementary School and Nevin Coppock Elementary School. The districts kindergarten and first grade students attend Nevin Coppock while second and third graders attend Broadway.

The district has tried twice since 2016 to build a new facility. In 2016, a bond issue to build on the site of Broadway school using 100 percent local funding was rejected by voters.

In May 2019, a bond issue that would have used local dollars with some cost reimbursed through the OFCC was defeated by voters after last minute confusion over the plan and if it complied with OFCC requirements. That plan would have included renovations and an addition at the L.T. Ball Intermediate School.

The board continued discussions last year and into this year, at first saying it was considering not working with OFCC but then deciding to try to secure some state dollars of offset project costs.

The possibility of a presentation to the OFCC and the state controlling board in May and then this summer was discussed before the COVID-19 shutdown.

When Kumpf talked with the OFCC contact April 27 several things had changed.

- The OFCC meetings have been canceled at least through May with the next meeting expected in July or August.

- The OFCC share for any Tipp City project - at 35 percent - has expired. New OFCC share numbers will be calculated and available in September.

- An increase in project costs also should be expected, ranging anywhere from 3 to 5 percent at this time.

“With the coronavirus and business have had to close and knowing the impact on the economy and our families a facilities issue on the November ballot seems unlikely,” Kumpf said. She is leaving the district at the end of July due to retirement and will turn over information to incoming superintendent Mark Stefanik, Kumpf said.

“It doesn’t sound like this year is the year,” board member Simon Patry, who recently said he would advocate the board moving forward with a project. He did support, however, the board putting facilities on an upcoming work session to keep discussions moving forward.

Board members appeared to agree that scheduling a work session again after the new percentage information is available in September would be the best approach in part due to other issues facing the board including disruptions from COVID-19.

The board also will need to decide when to initiate a professional survey whose topics included district residents’ opinions on facilities. The survey by Fallon Research was scheduled to begin at the end of March but put on hold at the last minute.

“We felt COVID-19 would impact the survey. We want the best information possible and there is just a lot of uncertainly right now,” Kumpf said.

Contact this contributing writer at nancykburr@aol.com

About the Author