By Jeff Gallatin
School administration and board of education members will decide Monday on the best combination of length of time and millage amount for the proposed capital improvements bond levy expected to go on the November ballot.
At the June 11 school board meeting, the board and administration members settled on a figure of $16.4 million to cover improvements to various district facilities. The improvements are designed to extend the use of Bay High School and the Glenview child-care facility, as well as Westerly and Normandy schools. Priorities 1 and 2 primarily focus on upgrading electrical, air conditioning, heating and other equipment in those buildings to handle modern technology. Priorities 1 and 2 are renovations and improvements officials classify as needing to be done in the next five to 20 years.
School board members will be considering lengths of 20, 25 and 28 years for the proposed capital improvements levy. At the June 11 meeting, board members decided to consider the information in the facility assessment compiled by ADA Architects Inc., of Lakewood, for the district. Board member Bill Selong advocated the additional time, while also giving board Treasurer Debbie Putnam time to compile detailed reports on the different potential costs for each levy time period.
Bay schools Superintendent Clint Keener said the district is fortunate to be able to consider a bond levy for capital improvements when the interest rates are lower than they have been for several years.
‘It’s a very good time to be looking at these type of improvements with the current low interest rates,” Keener said.
He said those interest rates should play a role in the decision about the levy.
“Because the rates are so low right now, I think we could go a little longer on a levy and still get a good deal financially,” he said. “But the final decision on the length of the levy is ultimately up to the school board.”
Board Vice President Michael Caputo, who will be running Monday’s meeting since President Gayatry Jacob-Mosier is on a long-planned vacation visiting family, said he’s looking for the best balance between length of time for the levy and the best financial millage rate.
“We’ve settled as a board on what we want to get done and the amount of money that is going to be used,” he said. “Now, we have to decide on the time and the millage amount to be used.”
Both Keener and Caputo noted since the levy will only be renovating and improving existing buildings and not financing new ones, that will be a key factor in the decision.
“We don’t want the length of the term for the levy to outlast the improvements to the buildings that they’re paying for,” he said. “Because of that, I don’t think a 28-year term is the way to go for us on this one.”
Caputo said he would like to see a final decision that utilizes as low an interest rate as possible with a reasonable length of time, but keeps the millage below 2 percent.
“Because we’ve got the lower interest rates right now, I think there’s a good possibility that we can get a 25-year term and still go under 2,” he said. “If that’s indeed the case, I would look to something like that. We’ll be going over all that when we review and discuss the treasurer’s report.”
Caputo, Keener and other district officials have all emphasized that doing renovations now and in the near future will forestall more extensive repairs and/or building replacement.
“We’re telling the public and giving them the information showing that if we do this work now, the buildings will last longer than if we do nothing,” Caputo said. “If we don’t take action, we’ll be looking at higher costs and more extensive repair or replacement of many facilities within a few years.”
After the board settles on the term and financial millage, it will forward it to Cuyahoga County officials. It is expected to approve placing it on the ballot at its July 9 meeting. After that, it must get the final work to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in August to get it on the November ballot.