Thursday, October 23, 2008

Whitehall School Superintendent Judyth Dobbert-Meloy interviewed on Bexley Public Radio.

Reporter Dianne Garrett interviewed Whitehall School Superintendent Judyth Dobbert-Meloy for Bexley Public Radio on benefits of Bond Issue 82.

Superintendent Judyth Dobbert-Meloy visited WCRX-LP on October 22 to address questions and concerns frequently asked by residents regarding Bond Issue 82.

The following is a summary of some of Garrett's questions and the Superintendent's responses:

Q: How much will the project cost, and how was that determined?

A: The total cost of the project is $78.1 million. The Ohio School Facilities Commission will pay $47,668,000 (61%). Through the bond issue, the community would cover the remaining $30,476,000 (39%). In other words. Whitehall would get five buildings for the price of two.

Q: How were these costs determined?

A: The OSFC has assessed all buildings multiple times to determine the needs. They examined every aspect of the structures, including mechanical and electrical systems, plumbing, instructional space, safety and security systems, roofs, foundations, handicap access and general condition. Many of the problems they found with the facility may not be seen from the street as one drives by. That is because the district tries hard to keep them looking nice. The problems do affect functionality.

Q: The buildings look fine, so why do we need new ones?

A: Other assessment findings included: classrooms too small (under state mandates), outdated technology, insufficient restrooms for staff and students, poor ventilation, buildings too hot in warm months and too cold in winter months, no doors for classroom security, overall lack of security systems, not enough locker or storage space, inadequate science and computer labs, as well as for art and music instruction, cafeterias that must also be used for gym classes and other activities and poor library facilities.

Q: Why not just renovate?

A: Due to the age and condition of the buildings, the OSFC has determined that it would not be cost effective to renovate them. The rule is that when it would cost more than two-thirds the cost of replacement to do renovations, the OSFC recommends replacement. All buildings fall into this category.

If you total the costs just to replace the systems in the buildings, provided by the OSFC, it adds up to $62,000,000. Our portion of this cost would require 5.6 mills and we would still have old buildings when finished. That is why OSFC does not recommend renovations.

Q: How long will the buildings last?

A: They are designed with a life expectancy of 50 or more years.

Q: What are additional benefits of new buildings?

A: The OSFC requires that new buildings be constructed to be efficient and environmentally friendly. They will use 30%-50% less energy; reduce harmful CO2 emissions by 40%; use 30% less water; have better lighting and temperature controls; have improved ventilation and indoor air quality; improve student health and performance, generate savings by reducing operating and maintenance costs; preserve the environment by using renewable resources.

Q: What can the bond money be used for?

A: The money raised from the bond issue and the money received from the state can only be used for capital improvements in the district. These funds cannot be used to pay anyone's salary, or for day-to-day operations of the district.

Q: What about unforeseen construction costs or unexpected costs?

A: All of those issues have been factored into the cost. If a problem arises that will be more costly, possible adjustments will have to be made somewhere in the plans.

Q: What will happen to the auxiliary gym and auditorium?

A: Every effort is being made to tear down and build around them, so that they will be retained. The gym is 20 years old, and will soon be paid off, and the auditorium is one of six in Ohio of that style and size.

Q: How much money does it take each year to maintain the buildings?

A: $500,000 - $750,000

Q: Do school facilities really have an impact on student achievement?

A: From research from the OSFC website:
Studies tell us a lot about the importance of school buildings and their relationship to the community and the students who occupy them. Studies show that academic performance is affected by the educational environment. Students actually do better work in bright, clean, well-ventilated and well-maintained spaces. Teachers say their own performance is enhanced as well.

Studies also show a relationship between substantial school buildings and lower student achievement test scores. Students perform better on tests in schools designed as modern teaching environments. The difference in test scores varies as much as 17%.

Q: Where will students go to school while the new buildings are under construction?

A: The plan is to build on the same property for each school while keeping the children in the old buildings. There are also funds available in the project to help with "swing space" such as portable classrooms or renting space.

Q: What are the benefits of new school buildings to people who do not have children in school?

A: From a study entitled "Public Schools and Economic Development":
* Schools definitely influence residential property values
* Type and quality of school facilities affect economic development
* Quality schools can help make states and local communities more
economically competitive.

Additional information:

The average home value in Whitehall is about $80,000, and the following is a breakdown of what that will cost home owners each month:

2009-2012 $17.29
2013 and beyond $14.03

The figures decrease because Whitehall residents are still paying 1.6 mills for bonds for the high school auxiliary gym. Those bonds will be paid off in four years, and will reduce residents total tax liability by 1.6 mills at that time.

Reported by Dianne Garrett for Bexley Public Radio.

Bexley Public Radio Foundation broadcasting as
WCRX-LP, 102.1 FM, Local Power Radio
2700 E. Main St., Suite 208
Columbus, OH 43209
Voice (614) 235 2929
Fax (614) 235 3008

Bexley Public Radio Foundation broadcasting as WCRX-LP, 102.1 FM is exempt from federal taxes under IRC Section 501(c)(3). Donations are deductible from federal income taxes for individuals who itemize. Checks may identify the payee as Bexley Public Radio Foundation WCRX-LP, 102.1 FM.

Design is copyright 2008. All rights reserved. Bexley Public Radio Foundation. Text is copyright 2008. All rights reserved. Dianne Garrett.

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