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Windham in line for state school funds

From staff and wire reports Published: July 21, 1997 12:00 AM

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.

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Although Windham school officials have not yet received final clearance

from the state, they are hammering out final details in the district's building


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"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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