Wednesday, June 16, 1999

Lakota forms maintenance plan

$14M would help protect buildings

Enquirer Contributor

        UNION TOWNSHIP — For nearly a dozen years, one top priority at Lakota Local Schools has been to build and open schools.

        Now Dick Camp wants to make sure the buildings stay in good repair.

        Mr. Camp, Lakota's director of support services, and his staff have put together a five-year, $14.4 million plan, which he presented to school board members Monday.

        It includes nearly $3 million for roof repairs and $4 million for buying school buses. Each building would receive some maintenance work, with the district's older buildings getting more attention.

        Although the average age of the district's 20 buildings is 21 years, only eight of the district's 17 schools were built before 1980. Altogether, the district must maintain about 400 acres,1.6 million square feet of space and 3,681 parking spaces, Mr. Camp said.

        “As our buildings get older, it's imperative we have a maintenance program,” Mr. Camp said. “Several of our systems are past their useful lives.”

        Instead of spending the $200,000 to $300,000 annually the district has allocated to summer maintenance work, Mr. Camp says the district should be spending $2 million to $3 million annually.

        “We've got to focus our attention long-range,” Mr. Camp said.

        Superintendent Kathy Klink said the next step is to figure where the money will come from. Energy-related work could be paid for through energy management projects allowed under House Bill 264. Part of the money for qualifying projects could be included in a bond issue the school board is looking at for the November ballot.

        District Treasurer Alan Hutchinson told board members last month that property re-evaluations by the county auditor's office would allow the district to put a 1-mill bond issue on the ballot that would raise a minimum of $24 million but increase taxes by only about $28 a year on a house with a market value of $150,000.

        “The first step was putting together the plan,” Mrs. Klink said. “Now, we have to look at financing it. We might include money for the first three years in the November bond issue and then look at the rest of the funding in three years when property is re-evaluated and we would get another opportunity to put a mill on the ballot without raising taxes much.”

        Under Mr. Camp's proposal, the district would spend $3 million the first year, $3.6 million the second year, $3.8 million the third year, $2.5 million the fourth year and $1.4 million in the final year.

        “A lot of these things won't manifest themselves for several years,” said board member Jeff Jones, who said he supported such a plan.


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