CH-UH School Board Discusses Plan C Funding
The board hosted a work session on Monday to discuss how the district could pay for the $206.2 million project.
The Cleveland Heights-University Heights School Board focused on Plan C funding options its work session Monday night. Though Steve Shergalis, director of business services, touted the plan's flexibility, the ability to completely fund it will partly rely on voter approval and private donations.
The project, which would renovate and reconfigure schools in the district by 2022, is estimated to cost $206.2 million. Nearly 70 percent of that cost would be paid for by a bond issue the board hopes to put on the November ballot.
The measure would ask voters to approve a 5.9-mill, 37-year bond issue that would produce $137.2 million. Residents would pay $15.50 per month per $100,000 of property valuation. It would be the district's first bond issue since 1973, Shergalis said.
The district hopes to have ballot language written, approved and filed by the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections' July 31 deadline for November issues. Superintendent Douglas Heuer said a recommendation to request approval from the Ohio Department of Education would be on the July 3 agenda, along with a resolution and recommendation that the treasurer contact the county auditor's office for official millage.
"There is a need, and I'm hoping between now and July 3 that we can figure all this out, get our questions out, get our concerns out and try to come to some type of agreement and resolution to make these changes happen in the district," Board President Karen Jones said.
If voters approve the issue and the district secures a collection of donations, state funding and a long-term loan to accompany its Permanent Improvement Fund, Plan C would:
- Reduce Cleveland Heights High School by more than 100,000 square feet while renovating its "remaining historic core," Shergalis said. New construction space is figured into that amount. The school's stadium, auditorium and pool would all be entirely redone. The school would provide education for 1,680 students.
- The district's three middle schools would be converted into intermediate schools for grades four through eight. Portions of Roxboro and Monticello will be removed, and the remainder of the buildings would be fully renovated. Wiley would be completely renovated. Each school would instruct 700 students.
- Canterbury, Oxford and Roxboro elementary schools would be converted into pre-kindergarten-to-third-grade structures for 495 students apiece. Boulevard Elementary School would be demolished and entirely reconstructed and house the same primary grade levels. The existing space in Canterbury, Oxford and Roxboro would be completely renovated.
Ideas C-1, C-2 and C-3 presented a few weeks ago are now off the table.
"We'll work closely with city officials and community members to ensure that any proposed new use would be compatible with and supportive of the surrounding neighborhoods," Shergalis said.
Shergalis projects that the board will receive a combined $16 million in private foundation and individually donated funds. Another $20 million would come from the Ohio School Facilities Commission. Career Tech partner funding would yield $2 million, and the district would provide an annual $1 million from its Permanent Improvement fund.
The district would also take on a 30-year, $30 million Certificates of Participation loan, though Shergalis said the district wouldn't apply for it until later in the Plan C process.
Shergalis' options list defines how each set of funds would be spent. He said portions of the plan wouldn't be implemented if the district is unable to obtain funding. For instance, the stadium, auditorium and pool upgrades will not happen if the projected private donations fall through.
The director of business services fielded questions from board members for more than an hour after providing an initial summary. When board member Kal Zucker asked why the district would demolish Boulevard, Shergalis said the school's current structure isn't worth additional investment.
"The configuration of that building, the way it's built right now, does not lend itself well to additional investment," Shergalis said. "It's a very compact, very square plan. There's a lot of interior space. No matter what we do to that building, no matter how much money I dump into it, I can never get it configured in a way that works really well for a modern building."
The district worked with Studio Techne, Fanning Howey and Regency Construction Services on the plan. It includes a chart that shows annual construction plans through the 2021-2022 school year. Shergalis said details on swing-space plans would be more clearly defined in the near future.
When board members questioned him on pricing details, Shergalis stressed that nothing is final.
"This is not the cost, this is the budget," he said. "We're going to have a lot of opportunities going forward to push on efficiency, to do value engineering, to be as effective as we can in delivering this plan to the school district.
"This is simply a budget."
Find our coverage of the proposed CH-UH Facilities Master Plan here.