Two new elementaries will be built at no additional cost to taxpayers

For a graphic depiction of what we can and cannot do with the OFCC funds, click here.

Update:  This information is from Treasurer Debbie Caudle to clarify exactly what the OFCC money is.  She spoke with OFCC to be certain our information was correct and we understood where the funds are coming from.  As you can see, these monies are NOT from tax dollars in any form, and our use of them will be monitored separately from any other fund so they can be tracked by the project.  Thank you, Mrs. Caudle, for this information!

“OFCC money comes from the State Capitol appropriations and is generated from tobacco settlements, proceeds of bond sales at the state level and cash on hand.  Once these state monies are received by the district as OFCC project monies we are required to post these to our 010 Classroom Facilities fund (a capital projects fund designated for state OFCC projects) and run all revenue and expenditures through this fund.  No local bond monies or bond fund activity are involved.   
 
Since this will be documented under a separate fund we will always be able to see the history of the project as a separate activity from the other projects under the master plan.”

On Thursday night, the school board approved a resolution to accept $25 million from the State’s Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) to build two new elementary schools (Seipelt & Boyd E. Smith).  This is money the district earned as a “credit” for what we have already spent on construction, when we built the four new elementaries and renovated/added on to the HS & JH.

Milford entered the OFCC program back in 2000.  The idea is that the community spends money to build out a “master plan” for buildings in the district, and the OFCC then “pays back” a certain percent, which is determined by a formula.  Our pay back is 28% – for every dollar we spend that goes to the master plan, we will receive 28% back at the end of the process.

The master plan looked at projected district growth, current buildings and facilities, and needs for the future.  The plan outlined that we needed 4 new elementaries (finished in 2004); a replacement for Seipelt; renovations to Boyd El Smith; additions and renovations to the high school; and renovations/rebuild of the junior high (part of HS & JH work completed a few years ago).

The district passed a bond issue in 2001 for the first round of work (4 elementaries), and then another issue in 2007 that restructured the bond to provide $40 million without increasing the cost to taxpayers.  Money is still needed for the other projects.  Under the initial scope of the program, we would not receive our 28% back until the entire master plan was finished.

Several years ago, the OFCC (under a different name at the time) decided to start “paying back” school district building credits early, to help the master plan processes along.  This made a lot of sense, since districts were going to require decades to finish out an entire building plan.  We were “on the list” to receive 28% of what we’d already spent.  The requirement, however, is that the district finishes a complete project with the money – you cannot use the credit to do “part of” a project, such as renovate part of a building, or add on to a building that still needs renovation.

Earlier this year, we were told it was highly unlikely we would qualify for our credit this year.  Then a few weeks ago, that changed – because most districts were still requiring to pass bond issues to round out the funds provided (to be able to pay for a complete project), our number came up much more quickly than expected.

On May 16, just a few hours before the school board meeting, it was official:  we were offered $25 million to use for projects in our master plan!

This is great news.  $25 million is enough to replace Seipelt and also Boyd (which, since 2000 when the plan was written, has become obsolete enough for the state to suggest it be replaced), so it will take us a long way toward completing the master plan.  After these buildings are done, the Junior High will be the only project left – and we will receive 28% of that spending back as well.

This money comes just in time.  Seipelt has needed major repairs for years (buckets are a standard accessory when it rains), and Boyd’s configuration and infrastructure require drastic overhaul.  If we had not received this money, we would be spending significant funds to repair and renovate both buildings; and that money would have come from the general fund.

Instead, we will have new, state-of-the-art buildings that are more energy efficient and able to support technology needs.  We will actually save in general fund expenses, as we will have the same personnel but lower energy costs, helping extend the current levy even farther.

You may be wondering what else we could do with this money – given the financial state of districts, $25 million would go a long way to extend the levy money and support operations.  But this is not possible:  money allocated for construction and operating money come from two completely different budgets.  They cannot legally be mixed.

To clarify some questions about what we are legally permitted to do with these funds:

What we can do with the money:

  • We can fully complete one or more projects
  • We can turn the funds down, and wait years before we are again eligible to receive the credit

What we cannot do with the money:

  • We cannot use it for operations (which is what the levy we just passed is for)
  • We cannot renovate part of a building (i.e., we could not renovate part of the JH, and $25 million is not enough to complete the JH project)
  • We cannot return the funds to the community

This is a wonderful chance for the district to replace buildings that are in dire need of help, and start saving in the general fund from operational efficiencies.  The $25 million is completely separate from the levy and the operating funds we need for day-to-day business.  Best of all, this is a credit on what the community has already spent, and it’s been received a decade or more earlier than we ever would have received it before.

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4 Responses to “Two new elementaries will be built at no additional cost to taxpayers”

  1. Kevin Shumard Says:

    yo-k. You are telling me that all of these “free money” plans will withstand the rigors of what “does not cost more money” requires, or shall I just accept the redefinition of words to reflect political expedience?

  2. andreabrady Says:

    Hi Kevin,
    Not completely sure what you’re referring to …

    The Milford school district will not have to take any additional funds from the General Fund to build these schools. We will not have to issue new bonds to build the school. Once the construction is complete, expenditures in the general fund will reduce b/c operating the current buildings is very expensive.

    Does this address your question? If not, either post or email me andrea @ andreabrady.net and I’ll be happy to discuss. Thanks!

  3. Ed Engel Says:

    The Enquirer reported that Seipelt may be rebuilt on it’s current site, why not on the land purchased for this purpose on SR131?

  4. andreabrady Says:

    Ed, that is one option we are considering. We can build a 2-story building on the same site if it makes more sense. There are a lot of factors and we have to work through them. You’ll be hearing more in the near future!

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