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    Posted: Apr 20 2018 at 3:45pm
March 14, 2018

Board Work Session, March 14, 2018

The Monroe Local School Board of Education met for a Board Work Session on March 14, 2018, at the Board of Education office located at 500 Yankee Rd., Monroe, OH. The meeting was called to order at 6:00 PM by Mr. Brett Guido, President. The following members were present and answering roll call:
Members Present:
Brett Guido
Leslie Stone
Tim Carpenter
Tom Leeds
David Grant
Dr. Phil Cagwin, Superintendent, Mrs. Holly Cahall, Treasurer, Mr. Jessie Catanzaro, Director of Operations, and Mrs. Jody Long, Director of Curriculum were present. Mr. Rowell, Planning Administrator of the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, and Mr. Todd Thackery, Vice President SHP Leading Design were in attendance.

Dr. Cagwin explained that Mr. Rowell was invited to discuss how the funding works, and where Monroe ranks with regard to facilities funding. Mr. Guido said he understands we were notified that we are not on the list any more.

Mr. Guido said he understands we were notified that we are not on the list any more.

Mr. Rowell said he cannot say exactly where we are. He said there are variables that determine what projects we can approve starting with how much money is allocated in the State’s budget. He said Monroe will be coming in as CFAP (Classroom Facilities Assistance Program). Mr. Rowell said they do most offers in July of each year and there are three variables which come into play. There is a priority list and there is an equity list. He said all 611 schools are ranked on a wealth scale. They use the per pupil valuation. He said this ranking changes every year. Once they know a school’s ranking on the equity list, the school then moves onto a priority list. Once they are on the Priority List, Districts have the option to defer the program. He said if there are 50 districts in front of you, 3 may say they want to go forward. You may be 4th. He said then they organize districts on the priorities list based on when you responded to that outreach.

He said when you get in line, we ask the Board to commit to a date for when the commission will approve the project. This is done over and over. Schools then drop their place in line when they say moved the commission approval date. Other schools from previous time periods now say they want in line.

When the commission approves the project, the state controlling board approves the funding and you have thirteen months to raise your local share. You become a lapsed district if you don’t pass the bond and raise your share. If later then a lapsed district does pass a bond, they have priority to the money. Recently Districts which have lapsed have been very successful with their bond issues. They take the money first and then the funds dwindle. The net result is it has slowed down our offers to new CFAP Districts.

Mr. Rowell said that a year ago he thought Monroe would have their project approved in July, 2018 but now that is not probable. 

Mr. Rowell said that a year ago he thought Monroe would have their project approved in July, 2018 but now that is not probable. Mr. Leeds asked how many are in that queue. Mr. Rowell said there may be 30 or more Districts. Mr. Rowell said they probably have enough money to do 20 districts a year. He said normally, the OFCC is awarded $600-700 million dollars. This cycle, the amount of funds is going to be a little less.

Mr. Guido asked him why he did not tell us in the beginning, and Mr. Rowell said it was never certain. He said the success rate of passing bonds has been unbelievable. Mr. Guido said we have been told we need our facility study, and be ready. Mr. Leeds said his biggest concern if schools passed their bond issues this past November, why are we just finding out? Dr. Cagwin said he is wondering how many Districts committed when they weren’t really ready just to be put on the list.

OFCC does not hate Monroe and we do our best to run a level playing field. - Mr. Rowell

Mr. Rowell said he doesn’t know if that is true. He said OFCC does not hate Monroe and we do our best to run a level playing field. Mr. Grant said if other Districts know the system and indicated they were ready to move forward, they ended up ahead of us. Dr. Cagwin asked how many years are we from funding. Mr. Rowell could not answer.

Dr. Cagwin asked how many years are we from funding. Mr. Rowell could not answer.

The question was asked - could Monroe could expect funding in July? Mr. Rowell said there are 26 Districts ahead of Monroe. He also said that our efforts in planning are not lost.

Mr. Rowell said another variable relates to the size of different projects. He said some are renovations, and some projects are brand new buildings. Mr. Grant said he was disappointed – and said that now we have to go to the community with the question – what are we going to do with our children?
Mr. Rowell said that every year the equity list changes and your spot on the list determines the percentage you will be funded. Future funding may be 49% but it may be more or less than that percentage.

Mr. Rowell said that in 2009, Monroe considered ELP and did not have the opportunity to participate in State Funding. If we had done ELP, today we would be talking about chipping in the State’s share. He said very few new CFAP projects are approved.

Mr. Rowell said there is the possibility if you decide to go to the ballot, we would follow along with you- help with the master plan, and send you a risk package. He said the actual budget might not be what is approved and your share might not be what it is. He said, however, if you are successful, you become a high priority district and the State is more likely to give you money. If you are sitting there with your money from the Bond, we are going to fund you as quickly as we can. The State’s objective is to consider the ones on the top of the list. They consider which Districts are the “neediest”, and you become needy if you have passed a bond and need the State’s part to complete it.

Mr. Leeds said it could change with changes in administration and Mr. Rowell said nothing has changed. The General Assembly changes but the OFCC doesn’t change. Mr. Guido asked what should we do and Mr. Rowell said it is good to be ready. He said we will know more once we get through the May elections.

Mr. Grant asked if there are restrictions by going to the ballot, and Mr. Rowell said there are many restrictions. The percentage of co-funding may change and the cost of construction may change. Mr. Rowell said Talawanda has done one building at a time, and were approved by the State for each building. Segmented districts stay on the list and are a priority. Mr. Guido said this need can be talked about in many ways but we are growing so fast. Mr. Rowell said it can be argued Monroe is needier because of student growth. Mr. Guido said our community will find it difficult to understand.

Mr. Leeds asked Mr. Rowell if you do call in May, will we be penalized for missing a deadline. Mr. Rowell said lets work through this Master Plan so you are ready whenever it can be approved. Mr. Catanzaro said we should pursue completing our Master Plan and then move forward with the Commission. Mr. Rowell said we will know if Monroe will be funded as soon as the May election is done. Dr. Cagwin said the percentage of funding and the amount of local share is tied in with the Master Plan once it is approved.

Mr. Catanzaro explained about the legal pathways for a public school to borrow money through a ballot issue. He explained the limitations on debt capacity after consultation by Mrs. Brenda Wehmer, an attorney with Dinsmore and Shohl, LLP. He said we are limited to how much debt we can acquire without applying to the State for special needs designation. He explained that the district can borrow the money under ORC Chapter 3318 for the Local Share and only required LFI from a project with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission. He reinforced that pathway did not include the opportunity to borrow money to be spent on any district selected upgrades or improvements. He described that under Chapter 133 the district could borrow without special needs designation the local share + 50% of a project approved with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission. If t Monroe didn't have OFCC approval for a project, then based upon our current level of indebtedness, a special needs designation would be required for the estimated dollar amounts of the projects to handle our current projected needs. That special needs designation is currently based on 10 year review and 10 year projection of valuation in all property classifications. He said that under current rules, based on an analysis by Dinsmore and Shohl, we likely would not qualify for the designation. He shared that a rule change proposal may be adopted this spring by the State that looks at 12 year history and projection and this may allow the district to qualify but that wouldn't be finalized until sometime in May or June at the State level.

Mr. Thackery said this is the worst timing he has ever seen. Mr. Catanzaro said we should stay on the path we are on, complete the Master Plan, and determine LFI (Locally Funded Initiatives). Mr. Thackery said you could decide to segment and just do the elementary and leave remodeling out of it.

Dr. Cagwin led the discussion about the type of building. He said if you do build a high school it comes with a higher cost. We figured $8.9 million in LFI would be required for a High School. Mr. Grant said the athletic facilities are on the hill at the main campus. Mr. Guido said he always envisioned an elementary school, but the question is what grade levels. Mr. Catanzaro said our master plan will say preschool through fourth grade and so we should have the square feet we need. The Master Plan includes abating and demolishing the Primary, but we won’t demolish it and use LFI to fund changes to the Primary. It was decided that a resolution would be made at the next meeting.

Mr. Thackery was asked how long it would take to modify the gym and he said it would take eight months.

Mr. Thackery was asked how long it would take to modify the gym and he said it would take eight months. It was agreed to set up a work session to finish the Master Plan.

Mr. Guido said we need to be transparent about this situation and make it clear that the time line is unknown. Mr. Leeds said the community should contact State Representatives about this situation. Mr. Guido said we need to be prepared. Mrs. Stone said it is a delay and setback but it is going to happen.

Dr. Cagwin said we are at the point of not being able to approve over 20% of new open enrolled students. He said we have open enrollment, but we have to tell most applicants we can’t take them. He asked if we should continue to offer it to new applicants. He said he has not been able to take elementary students, but can take some in Jr. High and High School. Dr. Cagwin suggested we close open enrollment for new applicants for the elementary, until we have capacity. He said we have run out of space to add a teacher.Two parents spoke about open enrollment, and explained that it is very important to their children who are currently open enrolled in Monroe.
Dr. Cagwin said if we add capacity, we can make room for open enrollment. Mr. Leeds said we may have to add modulars. Dr. Cagwin said he would maintain current students, but eliminate open enrollment at the elementary for new students. The only way we could guarantee it is if we have capacity. Mr. Leeds said the capacity is going to happen.

Motion by Leeds, seconded by Grant to move into Executive Session at 9:17 PM to discuss the compensation of personnel. Voting aye on the roll call: Leeds, Grant, Carpenter, Stone, and Guido. Nays none: Motion carried.


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