BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – A change of wording on a renewal levy in November for the Boardman Local Schools could mean a new school building without any additional taxes.
The plan is to make a five-year permanent improvement levy a continuing levy, meaning it would last forever. It would allow the Boardman Schools to borrow the money to replace the nearly 100-year-old Boardman Center Intermediate School. The north half of Center Intermediate School was built in 1928, the south half in 1931.
“We need to have a serious conversation with the community about the longevity, what to do about that facility,” said Boardman Schools Superintendent Tim Saxton.
Saxton has a plan. In the upcoming election, what for 35 years has been a permanent improvement levy generating $1.4 million a year and renewed every five years, voters will be asked to make the levy continuing, meaning the $1.4 million a year will last forever.
“When a levy is only five years in a renewal period, they’re only going to let you borrow against that five-year window. But a continuing levy would give you a nice financial foundation if you wanted to do a large-scale project,” Saxton said.
Saxton is recommending that Center Intermediate School be sold. Some big box stores have expressed interest.
“I think it’d be good for the Boardman community for us to allow that property to be developed,” Saxton said.
The new intermediate school, with its 840 fourth, fifth and sixth graders, would be built on land near the junior high and high schools.
“Have the three community elementaries, have a 4-12 campus. It allows us the economy of scale with transportation. Even ideas about common heating and cooling power plants,” Saxton said.
But how much will a new school cost?
“You’re looking at about a $40-50 million project,” Saxton said.
If the levy is approved as continuing, the new building will be paid with borrowed money — 20 percent from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, and the sale of the old building. There will be no new taxes.
“We don’t think so. If this goes continuing we do believe, obviously, there’s a lot of factors involved — the economy has an impact, interest rates are changing — but we do believe with the financial strength of a continuing permanent improvement levy we could do some creative internal financing to accomplish whatever goal we could work out with the community,” Saxton said.
Saxton says when Boardman voters approved a levy in 2018, he promised there would be no new taxes for 10 years, and he plans to keep that promise. He says if voters agree to make the levy continuing, discussion on a new school will begin immediately.