Carlisle wants to build $51 million combined school

State would pay 55 percent under plan that voters could see in May.

Carlisle’s Board of Education took a step toward building a new K-12 building to replace four school buildings that are old and cost the district to maintain.

Superintendent Larry Hook said the new building is projected to cost about $51 million with the state picking up 55 percent, or $28.7 million. However, the district this month approved a resolution seeking “special needs district” status so that it can exceed the maximum amount allowed for the district’s local share and its assessed valuation, which is currently $192 million.

In addition to the proposed K-12 building, Hook said there would also be some renovations to the high school stadium in the project, and that would have to come from the local share generated by a bond issue.

The board unanimously approved the resolution to make the request. Board President Tammy Lainhart could not be reached for comment.

Hook said if the Ohio Department of Education approves the request, the board will move forward with special meetings to approve resolutions of necessity and to place the bond issue on the May 2 ballot.

“We need that additional $3 million to put the entire project together,” he said. “They (ODE) want to feel assured that property values will increase and the district can handle the bond issue. This is part of the process to get to a final number that includes the state and local shares.”

Hook said based on past data and minus the recession years, the district’s valuation had trended upward by more than 7 percent in every three-year update. He said the district is using more conservative numbers of about 1.5 percent in the growth of the valuation, adding that Warren County is trending up but because of Carlisle’s location, its valuation grows slower than the rest of the county.

Hook said the district’s financial footing is more solid that it was seven years ago when the district was in fiscal caution.

However, if the ODE declines the request, the board will have to trim down the proposed project by $3 million to fit within maximum amount for the local share.

Hook said for the past several months, the board has been reviewing financial and other information prepared by the Ohio School Facilities Commission. He believes the ODE will respond quickly to the district’s request.

Once ODE makes its decision, the district will know the amount it will need to move forward with separate resolutions of necessity. State law requires these resolutions to be approved at separate meetings. Hook anticipates having special board meetings in January. The district tried unsuccessfully to pass a bond issue for a new facility about five years ago.

After the final amounts are determined, Hook expects to have forums with the community to further discuss the issue. He said he’s informally talked with a number of people about the need for new facilities. He said a new building is needed in the district of about 1,700 students, even though its enrollment projections are lower than they were five years ago.

If voters approve a proposed bond issue in May, Hook said the district would be able to access the state funding in July and start construction in the fall. The new building would be built behind the current Carlisle High School in front of the stadium. Once the new K-12 building is completed, the district’s four other buildings would be demolished, he said.

The district’s oldest building is Chamberlain Middle School, which was built in 1930. Alden Brown Elementary was built in 1956; Bobby Grigsby Intermediate was built in 1963; and Carlisle High School was built in 1972.

In July, the board voted to have the OSFC do a review that would qualify the district to be considered for possible state funding for a 13-month period. Hook said every building in the district was way over the threshold for renovation costs as the costs were 85 percent or higher that what the district would pay for a new building. He also said maintenance costs are rising because of the age of the buildings.

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