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
"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
"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,"
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,
- Claymont City School District in Tuscarawas County in eastern Ohio,
Depending on the particular district's wealth and debt burden, some of the
grants require a partial match with local tax dollars.