By Matt Clevenger
TROY — Members of the Troy City Schools Board of Education have agreed to move forward with plans to seek state funding to help construct a total of four new school buildings for the district.
Plans include the potential construction of three new pre-K through fourth-grade buildings and one new fifth- and sixth-grade building, at a total estimated cost of $153.4 million. State funding from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) would cover approximately 42% of the buildings’ cost; the rest would be funded by a 6.17-mill levy that could appear on the ballot before voters in November. The levy millage would equal approximately $18 monthly in additional costs per $100,000 of property valuation.
“We can either ask for property tax to cover the money we need, or we can also ask for income tax or a combination of the two,” BOE President Sue Borchers said.
Board members discussed the building and levy plans during a special meeting with members of the public and the district’s building committee held on Friday, May 19. Board members were required to give the OFCC a verbal commitment on the number of buildings to be included in the project by the end of that day, in order to secure the district’s position in line for potential funding.
“We started a building committee in January, and when we started we thought we were getting funding for new elementary schools in 2024,” Borchers said. “About a month ago, we received a call from the OFCC that said ‘we have funding for you in 2023.”
Locations for the new buildings have not been decided yet, but board members did discuss two potential new sites located on state Route 718 and Swailes Road. Current K-6 grade building sites could also possibly be used for some or all of the buildings.
“They are asking us to commit to the number of buildings, not necessarily where these buildings are located,” Borchers said.
Board members also considered two other three-building plans that would have cost either $149 million or $150 million. The three-building plans would have involved passage of levies equivalent to either $17.73 or $17.56 per month for each $100,000 of property valuation.
“If you look at the costs, you’ll see that the difference isn’t drastically different between these costs,” Borchers said. “Mostly because the buildings are bigger, and for the pre-K through six buildings, now you have classroom sizes, etc, affecting all three buildings as opposed to just one building. It does increase the cost of those three buildings.”
Board members compared three and four-building plans, and discussed the feasibility of neighborhood schools in the future.
“We cannot financially afford the neighborhood schools we have today,” Board member Theresa Packard said.
“If you want true neighborhood schools, we’ve got it,” Board member Doug Trostle said. “They’re deteriorating, they’re very costly, we have no teacher collaboration, we have no safety, we have nothing but we’ve got neighborhood schools.”
“To be an efficient school district, we need to consolidate, with better teacher collaboration, better student diversity within all the buildings,” he said. “This is a modified plan of four locations strategically placed throughout the community; what the building’s configuration is on each of those four sites is yet to be determined.”
All of the plans considered would also include funding for upgrades to the HVAC systems at the Troy High School building including the addition of air conditioning.
“It’s actually the quality of air; it’s air ventilation, and movement of air throughout the building,’ Trostle said.
“It’s the whole system,” Troy High School principal Dave Dilbone said. “We have the old boiler system from 1957 that you have to turn on in the fall and turn off in the spring.”
Improvements would also include upgrades to the high school building’s electrical system.
“We had a period of time in the last couple of years where we lost power to one part of the building because of our electrical issues,” Dilbone said.
Board members also discussed two previous levy attempts that failed in 2017 and 2020.
“With the last levy campaign, we did not have committed state funding, so what we were asking voters to approve was the full cost,” Borchers said.
“I’d really like to have more conversations in the coming weeks before there is a vote,” Board member Levi Fox said. “If we’re asking too much, the citizens of Troy have a history of saying no. We want to fund what we really think is most important, and when you try to add more stuff in there they might not support it.”
Board members are now waiting to receive a notice of conditional approval (NOCA) from the OFCC, which should arrive within seven to 10 days, and will schedule another special meeting to vote on the plan within the next fourteen days.
“Once we get the NOCA, we have to make a vote before June 2,” Borchers said.
“The next step would be we have to approve a request to place our levy on the ballot by Aug. 8,” she said. “At this time, we would have to determine what our actual configuration is going to be.”