Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Report - Funderberg on the GSD Bond Issue

Funderberg: Don’t vote against the kids
By Bob Robinson

“I’m not in an easy position,” said Bill Funderberg. “We’re down 0-2.”
Funderberg was referring to the recently announced campaign to get the Greenville School District’s $24.7 million bond issue passed by district voters. He will be heading the third and final attempt to get voter approval for a new 5-8 school on Ohio Street.
“The question I keep asking myself is what are we going to do with our kids 20 years from now if we don’t get this passed?” he said.
He added that the District doesn’t have many options.
Right now, he said, thanks to the efforts of State Rep. Jim Zehringer (R-77), we are near the top of the list for state support to build this one school. If it doesn’t pass in August, we drop back down to 367 on the regular list and the rules change.
“It’s money from the tobacco settlement. We’re not sure it will still be available by then,” he added. The requirements would also change; the District would have to build two schools under the regular program at a much higher cost to taxpayers, he said.
Under either program, the state pays 40 percent while Greenville voters pay 60 percent.
“It’s tough when they see other buildings funded at 80 to 90 percent. We argued with them,” Funderberg said. “We went to Columbus, but it made no difference. The ratio simply isn’t fair.”
Funderberg also said this was a bond issue, not a levy.
“A levy can be used in the District’s General Funds budget, a bond issue can’t. It has to be for the school building,” he said.
Funderberg said that the waiver of curriculum-oriented workbook, lab and flat fees if the levy passes will be permanent unless some future board decides to reinstate them.
“Our Treasurer, Carla Surber, said waiving the fees would cost the district about $92,000 a year.”
He added that this was his idea due to the number of students who have been denied participation many school activities and services because they, or their parents, were unable to pay the fees. Yet they don’t qualify for state aid. He said it would put all students on a “level playing field,” whether they had the money for fees or not.
“We expect to save from $300,000 to $500,000 a year in maintenance and repair, as well as administrative costs. Over the last 10 years, maintenance for these older buildings cost a little under $7 million. As they grow older, that cost won’t get any less,” Funderberg said.
Because of state law, Funderberg said they can’t change the millage of their levy to give taxpayers a break without putting it on the ballot as a new levy.
“We can’t do that,” he said. “Renewals pass at a rate of about 80 percent. New levies, even if they are reductions, only pass at a rate of about 20 percent. We can’t afford to take that chance.”
Funderberg said that the school board, many years ago, wisely set aside $4 million through various cost saving measures. It spent $1 million for the land. The remaining $3 million has been depleted to keep a balanced budget.
“If they hadn’t done that, the district would have been operating in the red seven of the last eight years.”
The offer of space to the community – not just seniors – is simply an extension of the District’s Winter Walking Program at the high school. It will be used as classroom space during school hours and opened to the community at other times.
“There may even be opportunities for members of our community to interact with students,” Funderberg said. “A number of districts are doing it… Grandparents Day, that sort of thing.”
Owners of homes valued at $100,000 would pay $119 a year. That’s $10 a month. The vast majority of homes in the District are valued between $45,000 and $85,000. That’s $4 to $7 a month.
Funderberg said people can call this campaign anything they want. He doesn’t care as long as it gets the job done.
“We’re 0-2… we have to try something else. Let’s listen to facts and give it a chance…
“Don’t vote against the kids,” he said.

Bob Robinson is the retired editor of The Daily Advocate, Greenville, Ohio. If you wish to receive notification of his comments, opinions and reports when they are posted, send your email address to: opinionsbybob@gmail.com. Feel free to express your views.

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