Voters in the Greene County school district will go to the polls for a special election Sept. 10 that could impact the scope of repurposing of the current high school into a middle school with no change to property tax bills.
On the ballot will be a revenue purpose statement, or RPS, to authorize spending revenues from the state one-cent Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE) sales tax.
The board of education approved the special election at its July 17 regular meeting.
Voting “yes” in the special election will not increase taxes; it’s a procedural item.
The RPS will be the same as what’s in place now for SAVE revenues. It lists 10 uses for the SAVE fund, including building and furnishing a new school building and remodeling or reconstructing school buildings.
As the total budget for construction of the career academy and new high school and repurposing the current high school was developed, one of the unknowns was the future of the SAVE sales tax. When voters approved the $21.48 million bond issue for the project in April 2018, $4.5 million of the $35.48 million total project was budgeted to come from SAVE and the physical plant and equipment levy (PPEL).
The SAVE was set to expire in 2029, meaning the district could borrow against SAVE revenues only as much as could be repaid by then.
With that expiration date looming, the total budget included only $1.7 million for work at the current high school. The $1.7 million would cover the cost of expanding the gym and cafeteria, remodeling classroom space, removing the built-in risers in the band room, remodeling the office space, and demolishing the shop space.
The state legislature in the 2019 session extended the SAVE tax for an additional 20 years. That allows school districts to borrow against anticipated SAVE revenue going out as far as 2049.
Every school district in the state that plans to bond against SAVE revenues past 2031 have to get approval of a new RPS. By approving one now, the Greene County district will be able to borrow more against anticipated SAVE revenue for the repurposing project.
The reason for scheduling a September election rather than a later election is to give more planning time for repurposing the high school so it can be ready as quickly as possible after the new high school is ready for students.
“Essentially, this is money we’re going to get,” board president Mark Peters said. “All we’re doing is approving a resolution of what we’re going to use that money for. We’re not asking people to vote on a new bond issue. It’s money we’re going to get.”
The expanded plans would include work on the restrooms and locker rooms to meet code/accessibility requirements ($197,500); replacing ceilings and flooring ($1.5 million); new mechanical and fire suppression systems ($1.3 million); and an electrical update with new wiring for the HVAC system, LED lighting, and a new fire alarm system ($1.4 million); and an update to the front entrance ($30,000).