Thursday, February 15, 2001

Milford schools to ask for levy

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MILFORD — Despite two bond issue failures in Milford Exempted Village Schools last year, school officials will ask voters in May for a 4.1-mill tax increase to build and renovate schools.

        But this time, they say, they're asking for a school facilities plan some residents have indicated they want.

        “Education needs to be as important as senior services, fire services, safety services and mental health services,” Superintendent John Frye said.

        “This plan will bring our facilities up to current standards and allow us to meet the population growth of the last two decades and anticipated in the next decade.”

    Phase one of a Milford schools facilities project includes plans to:
    • Replace South and Miami elementary schools
    • Build two elementary buildings.
    • Reduce enrollment in Boyd E. Smith Elementary and Seipelt Elementary to 600 students each. Each school now has more than 700 students.
    Phase two (for a ballot issue to be proposed later):
    • Renovation of Smith Elementary,
    • Renovation or replacement of Seipelt Elementary
    • Renovation and expansion of Milford Junior High and Milford High School.
   The Milford School Board is expected to vote today to place language on the May ballot for the proposed bond issue. The board meeting will be at 7 p.m. at 745 Center St., in the Milford City Council Chambers, lower level.
        The estimated tax increase for a $100,000 home would be $125.

        Based on feedback from five community forums, 120 residents said the district should ask for basic affordable buildings that meet community needs, he said.

        The last proposal was a 5.3-mill bond issue.

        “I think (we were) trying to do too much,” said board member Peter Gerdom.

        “Hopefully they'll prefer this plan to what was proposed before. I think everyone agrees there's a need. They don't question the fact we're out of space.'

        Children are being educated in 15 temporary classrooms throughout the district, he said.

        And the district estimates 50 new students will enter the school system annually for the next decade.

        Forum participants also said they want the district to consider:

        • Neighborhood K-6 elementary schools.

        • Replacing or renovating elementary schools first.

        The elementary schools are now K-4 buildings with a separate building for grades 5-6.

        The projected 4.1-mill increase is for phase one of a building project priced at $43.6 million.

        The board may ask for a 3.5-mill tax increase in a few years to pay for part of the building project's second phase, which would cost $36.9 million, Mr. Frye said.

        Once those portions are paid for, the state should kick in $23.5 million — or 27 percent of the project's total cost — for the rest of the second phase, Mr. Frye said.

        However, Milford schools would have to wait until about 2009 to receive the state aid. That's because all of the state's 612 public school districts are ranked in order of their wealth, with needy districts getting help first.

        Milford ranks 442nd poorest, Mr. Frye said.

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