Six-year master plan for new school

By Laurie Hamame -

Students could learn in a brand new PK-12 school in Oberlin by August 2025.

If passed, a 4.8-mill property tax bond issue on this November’s ballot will generate $17.8 million and fund the first phase of construction — a pre-kindergarten through fifth grade school.

After a one-year design period, construction would begin in November 2020. The elementary school is set to be occupied by August 2022.

Taxes would increase by $133 per year for every $100,000 worth of property you own. To reduce the net effect of the bond issue, board of education members plan not to collect one mill of current permanent improvement property tax levy money starting in January. This will reduce the net mileage to 3.8 mills.

Board member Barry Richard said the long-term plan is to place a bond issue on the November 2022 ballot to finance the second half of the district’s vision — a 7-12 grade building.

Starting in 2022, the Oberlin City Schools will start receiving royalty payments from Enbridge, the company behind the construction of a 250-mile long NEXUS pipeline coming through town. The total estimated revenue over the 30-year depreciated life of the pipeline is roughly $22.4 million dollars.

Richard said a future school board could vote to finance a significant portion of the 7-12 school construction using the tax money garnered by the pipeline.

The approximately 132,370-square-foot building would be constructed on a 40-acre site next to Oberlin High School.

In total, the PK-12 project is estimated to cost $43.3 million, but the state’s assistance will lower the local price tag to $35.5 million. A $3 million credit would be reimbursed after the entire project is completed.

Those numbers do not include optional initiatives that would be locally funded, including new board of education offices, ball fields, or a bus garage. The district would also be responsible for $3.4 million to build 10 additional classrooms.

The new school comes with high up-front costs to taxpayers, but it would deliver $1.3 million per year in long-term savings through reduced energy, maintenance, and personnel costs, officials predicted.

Academically, a single-building model is more efficient and beneficial, said superintendent David Hall. For example, many middle-schoolers take high school courses, and with a 7-12 facility, students can share teachers without traveling around, he said.

“We want people to make a choice. We’ve been spinning our wheels for too long,” Richard said.

Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.

By Laurie Hamame