The Ravenna School District has qualified for nearly three quarters of the funding for new buildings from the state, although school officials say they aren't ready to commit to building new schools.
Under the program, the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission would fund 74 percent of a new building project, with the district responsible for 26 percent of the cost.
Superintendent Dennis Honkala said the timing has to be right to remain fiscally responsible.
“We have not discussed this seriously at the school board level,” Honkala said. “We don't believe the timing is right because we are working hard to make sure we could financially support a new build without going on the ballot for operating monies.”
Among uncertainties are a new governor taking office in January and a new biennium budget being released in June. Honkala said the biennium budget would be a factor as the district considers any building project.
The district had a facilities study done a year ago that revealed that buildings in the district are cost prohibitive to repair with the exception of the high school, which was built in 2009. Honkala said the need would be for a pre-K through 8th-grade solution, but added speculating what that would look like at this point is “premature.”
While there is no timeline or plan in place, Honkala said the district will need new buildings “at some point.”
OFCC Senior Planning Administrator Bill Prenosil said the OFCC is not serving districts as fast as it wanted to, which may also delay the process as well. He explained the OFCC targeted Ravenna to be able to go to the ballot in November 2019, but the district has not committed to that timeline.
Prenosil added that districts who are in line ahead of Ravenna and who approve funding at the ballot would be served first. For instance Rootstown is on the Nov. 6 ballot for a new K-8 school building, and if the measure passes the district could receive OFCC funding as early as next summer for the project. Rootstown residents will have to fund 58 percent of the project as Rootstown schools only qualified for a 42 percent OFCC match.
“The state is almost at an unprecedented demand for OFCC funds right now,” Prenosil said. “We have 100 districts in the planning queue – that means the (districts) are ready and have their money, planning on going to the ballot soon or are in planning stages and in the process of determining what they want to do so they can go to the ballot.”
He said Ravenna is in the top 100, and may be halfway to three-quarters of the way down the list. Prenosil added Ravenna is in the “very, very early stages of planning.” Honkala said because it is so early in the process there is no concern about losing the district’s place in line at this point.
Reporter Briana Barker can be reached at 330-541-9432, firstname.lastname@example.org or @brianabarker1.