Franklin seeks bond issue to secure state aid in $130 million school construction project

This is an artist's rendering of what the new Franklin High School could look like if voters approve a 6.52-mill bond issue for new school construction on the Nov. 3 general election ballot. CONTRIBUTED/FRANKLIN CITY SCHOOLS
Caption
This is an artist's rendering of what the new Franklin High School could look like if voters approve a 6.52-mill bond issue for new school construction on the Nov. 3 general election ballot. CONTRIBUTED/FRANKLIN CITY SCHOOLS

Voters to make final decision if district moves forward with new building construction

Voters in the Franklin City School District will decide whether to move forward on the first phase for new school facilities this fall.

The Franklin Board of Education approved the overall $130 million project in May. It includes construction of three new elementary schools, which is about 57 percent of the overall project, and those costs will be paid by the state when the funds become available. The district must pass the local bond issue to receive the funding for the three new elementary schools.

The 37-year, 6.52-mill bond issue on the ballot will generate just more than $66 million so the district can participate in the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission’s Expedited Local Partnership Plan. The state said funding for Franklin would be available in 2027.

Warren County Auditor Matt Nolan said the bond issue will cost the owner of home valued at $100,000 about $228.20 a year in additional property taxes.

ExploreFranklin will seek bond issue for new school buildings on November ballot

The local bond issue funding will cover the costs of a new high school with career tech, renovation of the existing high school for use as a middle school housing grades 6-8 and other site improvements, including a new roof.

It would also cover local initiatives such as constructing a new bus garage, moving the central office into the new high school building, installing gas and other utility lines, and the demolition of Hampton Bennett School for a new student parking lot.

Superintendent Michael Sander said there would be a one-year design phase and two years of construction if the bond issue passes. The new high school will be open in fall 2023 with the middle school opening in fall 2025.

ExploreFranklin board approves facilities plan including 4 new buildings

The three new elementary schools will be constructed at the current Gerke, Schenck and Hunter sites.

The average age for Franklin school buildings is 64 years.

Leigh Anne Burnett, who co-chairs the Vote For Franklin Schools committee with her husband Steven, said she is hearing a lot of positive support for the bond issue. Both are teachers in the school district.

“The need is there and it’s time for Franklin to invest in its schools,” she said.

The committee has made videos of community leaders expressing their support as well as receiving donated campaign ads to post on the website.

“The biggest thing why this bond issue should be passed is that our kids deserve this,” she said. “I know this is a bad time (with COVID-19 affecting the economy) but now is the time to do this.”

Resident Rocky Alexander said he’s not opposed to having new buildings, but does oppose how the district decided to proceed. He also said after the new buildings are constructed, the district will need another operational levy.

“Franklin does need new buildings,” he said. “I think they could have found a different way of doing it.

“I’m financially able to pay this, but I am concerned about seniors who own their homes and being able to stay in them,” he said.


How old are Franklin’s school buildings?

Franklin Junior High School - 99 years old

Anthony Wayne Elementary - 70 years old

Hampton Bennett ECC - 64 years old

Schenck Elementary - 61 years old

Gerke Elementary - 58 years old

Hunter Elementary - 58 years old

Pennyroyal Elementary - 51

Franklin High School - 51

The Franklin City Schools still owns the Laura Farrell building but leases it to the Warren County Educational Services Center. That building is not part of the building program.

SOURCE: FRANKLIN CITY SCHOOLS

About the Author

ajc.com