Tipp City considering building new school

Tipp City school leaders said they would seek a bond issue for new prekindergarten through grade five classrooms sooner rather than later during a Monday board work session.

“I am comfortable going in May,” said board President Andy Venters during a lengthy discussion of plans for a 94,000-square foot addition at the L.T. Ball Intermediate School site, options for a May or November ballot issue, state funding opportunities and bond financing options.

Board members and administrators had debated the best timeframe for approaching voters for several weeks. A formal vote has not been taken.

The board heard Monday from Mike Burns of bond counsel Robert W. Baird & Co. that, from a strictly financial standpoint, May would be the choice, but he acknowledged other factors might come into play.

“You want to go in May from a dollars and sense standpoint because interest rates are only going up … construction costs are going up,” Burns said.

District Treasurer Dave Stevens, Superintendent Gretta Kumpf and Director of Services Gary Pfister also favored May. They said work on the proposal and ways to get the word out to the community have been underway.

“This is a very fiscally responsible plan for Tipp City,” said Stevens.

“We have to make sure we tell our story … We all believe very strongly in it,” Pfister said.

Board member Theresa Dunaway said the district had been working toward the proposal for more than a year including investing last summer in renovation projects to add life to the L.T. Ball and Tippecanoe Middle School buildings. Board member Sam Spano previously supported the May ballot and the board was told of a letter from board member Corine Doll, who had left the meeting earlier, supporting May.

Joellen Heatherly, the fifth board member, said she wanted to be sure project supporters had enough time to “paint the picture” of the plan for the district and its classrooms.

The board received an update on the proposed construction project Monday from Mike Ruetschle of Ruetschle Architects. Building plans have been increased to more than 94,000 square feet to accommodate projected district student growth. The estimated cost was listed at around $35.7 million.

Burns discussed bond issue options with the board, which will meet in a special session at 4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11, to review more information and decide on the best option. Bond issues of 27, 30 and 37 years were mentioned with Kumpf and board members saying they thought 37 years would not be supported by the community.

The district has been working with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission on the project. The district was told last year it was eligible for 35 percent state funding for a project. The board is looking at a project through the OFCC’s Expedited Local Partnership Program. The project and the ELPP concept will be discussed during a community engagement meeting planned at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15, at L.T. Ball school, 575 N. Hyatt St.

If the bond issue is approved in May, project groundbreaking could occur under an aggressive schedule in spring 2020, Ruetschle said.

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