Windham in line for state school funds

From staff and wire reports Published:

The grants, which the State Board of Education approved last week, were the latest round of awards under a school building assistance program. The program was created to help Ohio's poorest districts upgrade structures, many of which do not meet health and safety codes. Although Windham school officials have not yet received final clearance from the state, they are hammering out final details in the district's building program. "The anticipated plan is for this money to be used to demolish and rebuild a new elementary building - Katherine Thomas Elementary - renovate and provide an addition for East Elementary, renovate and upgrade the junior high school and build a new high school," Superintendent Vince Frammartino said this morning. "That's the tentative plan which has to be finalized by the state." Most of the money was included in legislation that Gov. George Voinovich signed in May. The funds are specifically aimed at school districts ranking in the bottom 10 percent in terms of wealth, and must be used for new building construction and renovations and additions to existing facilities. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Not only will it provide the upgrade in the buildings, but I believe it will also upgrade the educational opportunities for our students," Frammartino said. The building program will affect more than the 1,260 students enrolled in Windham schools. "We hope to make these buildings so the community can utilize them and enjoy them as well as the students and staff. The schools will become a center for our community and a sense of pride for our community," Frammartino said. The multi-million dollar cash infusion is not without conditions. Windham voters will have to approve a 23-year, 2.83-mill bond issue during the November general election. In Windham, one million generates about $32,000 annually. The district's board of education, which has been interviewing architectural firms, will decide on a winning candidate later this month. The firm selected will also be bound to help the district pass the bond issue. Under a new school-funding plan proposed by Voinovich and being debated in the Legislature, as much as $6 billion in state aid for buildings could flow into districts over the next 10 years. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled in March that the state must devise a new funding plan because the current method is unfair to poor districts and unconstitutional. The proposed program would be financed by part of the proceeds of a penny-per-dollar increase in the state sales tax, which would generate an extra $1 billion annually for schools. The latest awards more than double the amount of state aid for school buildings since the first awards went out in 1991. Windham is one of 19 districts across Ohio that are to share about $350 million in the state aid program. Other districts are:
  • East Cleveland City School District, which got nearly $80 million.
  • Western Brown Local School District in Brown County in southwestern Ohio, $40.5 million.
  • Minford Local School District in Scioto County in southeastern Ohio, $28.7 million.
  • Claymont City School District in Tuscarawas County in eastern Ohio, $24.3 million.
Depending on the particular district's wealth and debt burden, some of the grants require a partial match with local tax dollars.

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