Lucas School Building

LUCAS -- Lucas Local Schools will have a bond issue on the May primary ballot for the construction of a new K-12 school building.

The 37-year, $27 million bond issue would cover the projected local share for the project, according to estimates from architectural firm Garmann Miller.

The new property tax would be approximately 9 mills, or $9 for every $1,000 of taxable property value, according to the resolution.

The taxable property value is equal to 35 percent of its values as assessed by the county auditor. Thus, the owner of a $100,000 home would pay an estimated additional $315 annually if the issue is approved.

The Lucas School Board passed a resolution to proceed with placing a levy on the ballot in May. Click the PDF above to read the full resolution.

The board of education voted 3-1 this week in favor of a resolution to proceed with the ballot measure. Amity Arnold, Wayne Camp and Amy Cutherbertson voted in favor, with Roger Maglott cast the only "no" vote.

Board president Timothy Cooper was absent from the meeting, but said he would have voted in favor of the measure. 

"I would have voted yes. I think it’s time that we put this issue before the voters and let them have their choice," Cooper said. 

Discussions about upgrading the district’s facilities began in 2018. The school board solicited bids from architects, who examined the district’s physical facilities and education programs in detail to create a capital improvements plan for the district. 

The board awarded the contract to Garmann Miller in November 2018. However, the high cost of renovations led board members and some residents to question whether it would be worth it to replace the buildings instead.

A facilities task force group made up of Lucas community members formed in November 2019 and began considering options, then made an official recommendation to the board of education. The group recommended the construction of a new K-12 facility on the 45-acre parcel owned by the district.

After years of committee meetings and public feedback, Cooper said it feels good to move forward with the process.

"I think we have talked about this issue for quite some time now, a couple years at least and I think we’ve got to the point now where the board feels comfortable to ask the voters to approve the levy," he said. 

“We as a board have done our due diligence and have really taken our time and we’ve involved numerous committees, we’ve involved the public, and I think it's now time for them to move Lucas forward.”

If the ballot measure passes, Lucas will be eligible for additional funds from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC), which provides support for the construction and renovation of public K-12 schools.

Supt. Brad Herman told Richland Source last fall that since Lucas already has priority status with the OFCC, the local cost for a new building would actually be less than maintaining the current facilities long-term.

“Once OFCC makes their contribution, it really ends up being a smaller local share to build a brand new K-to-12 building than it does to do anything in between or less than that," he said.

In order to be eligible for OFCC funding, the project must follow certain guidelines, which is why Lucas would build one K-12 facility.

"If we're going to do a project with OFCC, they will not co-fund a building with less than, I believe, 350 kids," he explained. "They are not in the business of co-funding multiple buildings with those smaller student populations."

Garmann Miller estimated the cost to maintain Lucas' current facilities long term would be about $31 million. 

On the other hand, the firm predicted a new K-12 facility would cost just over $26 million in local dollars once funding from the state kicks in. 

said he's skeptical of those estimates.

Maglott told Richland Source that he had "gone along" with conversations about a new school building and had even planned to vote for it at one time. But the price tag was ultimately too high. 

“When I found out what it was going to cost the taxpayers, there's just no way," he said. “I don’t think the taxpayers in the township or the school district can afford it. I was getting a lot of flack about putting it on the ballot even.

"I’m not voting for a lifetime debt on my kids," he added. “The way the economy is right now, I just don’t think it's the right time.”

Maglott said he doesn't see a need for a new school facility, especially with the decline in enrollment the district has seen since he attended there in the 1960s. Lucas has an enrollment of more than 500 students, but OFCC projects enrollment will decline slightly in the years to come. 

The original wing of the high school was constructed in 1910 and another portion was built in the 1930s. The current elementary school was built in 1956, with an addition following in 1963. The newest building is the middle school, constructed in 1979. 

"They’re good, sound buildings," he said of the district's current facilities," he said. "The newest building we’ve got, we’ve had more trouble with it than we have with any of the old buildings.”

Herman said the district takes pride in its current buildings and will continue to maintaining them. He said the ballot measure is a way to "put the plan out there" as an option for the community.

"There’s been a lot of time and energy, not only by the board, but by community members, to go into this project," Herman said. "We’ve tried to be very thoughtful with this."

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Staff reporter focused on education and features. Clear Fork alumna. Always looking for a chance to practice my Spanish. You can reach me at katie@richlandsource.com