Westfall schools seeks money for capital improvements

Westfall schools seeks money for capital improvements

by Craig Lovelace

WILLIAMSPORT — Homeowners in the Westfall Local Schools district will see a couple bond issues on the November ballot that will let officials, if approved, provide a series of capital improvements throughout the system.

The estimated $28 million endeavor includes the renewal of 1.28-mills that expire at the end of 2022, and a new tax issue of 65-mills. The combined mills would generate $15 million for upkeep and improvements to the elementary school and the bonds would be issued at the end of this year. Additionally, the district’s plan calls for taking out a 20-year long-term note that will provide the district with another $13 million.  

“While I would not tell anyone that their taxes are low, I will say that Westfall’s taxes are low compared to other school districts. I understand that we are living in an unusual time, but there never seems to be a good time to ask for money. We are eagerly planning the future for our Westfall students,” Westfall Superintendent Jeff Sheets said in a letter to the community.

The .65-mill issue would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $19.91 annually.

The board of education approved the ballot initiative June 18.

Should all the funds materialize, the list of possible renovations and new construction at the high school and middle school include in part: upgrading HVAC and installing air-conditioning, new windows, upgrading the bathrooms, a new high school media center, repurposing some classrooms, building a community room and new cafeterias, and building a new fitness center. 

In his letter, Sheets explains why the district must take this particular course of action. He said unlike many other districts, Westfall likely wouldn’t receive money from the Ohio Schools Facility Commission because of the formula it uses to determine eligibility.

That formula, he said, measures the wealth of a district by dividing the total property valuation by the number of students, which totaled 1,432 in 2016, according to federal statistics. 

“While Westfall’s property valuation is similar to other county schools, having fewer students makes our property valuation per student higher.”

Thus, Westfall is classified as the wealthiest district in Pickaway County and one of the wealthiest in Ohio, Sheets said.

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