Hello Finneytown Community,
We have exciting news to share with you! Those who were here last year know that we had many meetings for our Strategic Plan and many more about the future educational visions of Finneytown. As part of both, the need for new buildings was the leading topic. If you were not here last year, here is a short review. (If you lived through this with us, feel free to skip down to the bolded section below.)
We were notified by the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) near the end of 2017 that we were near the top of the list to receive funding to help build new buildings through the CFAP (Classroom Facilities Assistance Program). We were told we could apply for matched funding If we turned it down, we would be off the list. OFCC would pay 52% and Finneytown would pay 48%. I took this information to the Finneytown Local School District (FLSD) Board of Education to decide our next steps.
The Board voted to go forward and explore input from the community about what the future looked like in FLSD. We held many meetings and the one constant was that the community could not pass up on 52% of the cost being paid by the state instead of with local taxes. The desired Master Plan (one K-6 and one 7-12 school) was determined. We worked with OFCC to update the assessments on our current facilities, had an enrollment study done, created a master plan with costs associated, and worked with a pre-bond architect from SHP to also determine what the Locally Funded Initiative (LFI) options were as well as how to prioritize them based on input from the community.
In March of 2018, we had everything ready to take to the Board to vote on a recommendation to move forward. On the day of the Board meeting, I was contacted by OFCC to let me know they discovered there was no money available for us at that time. They were overextended and would not entertain an application from Finneytown with CFAP. The OFCC could not consider us until their next biennium budget. With a new Governor in place, the OFCC was uncertain what the new funding might be available. Until that time, we just had to wait.
We would remain on the list, but, no money would be available for 3-5 years. This was a huge disappointment, of course. All that work, time, and effort seemed to be for naught.
We began to look for other options. Our community had made it clear that we need new schools. We attempted to take part in several other programs, but each one led us to a dead end. FLSD could not proceed on our own without forfeiting the matching funding. Our existing buildings are not getting any younger and the maintenance costs keep rising.
Fast forward to March 2019
We received information in March 2019 that there had been a change in yet another OFCC program, the ELPP (Expedited Local Partnership Program) that would be in our favor. Previously, ELPP was for wealthier districts who had the money to build facilities then be reimbursed for the matching funds when they became available. Most of these districts, because they were wealthier, had very low matching percentages.
The OFCC made modifications to the ELPP at the end of February 2019. The new rules allow a district who is at least 2 years from receiving CFAP money to be eligible. We contacted OFCC and found that we could apply. In a special meeting, the Board passed a resolution to apply for the ELPP. This was on Monday, April 8th. On Friday, April 12th, we received an email from OFCC notifying us that we are eligible to participate in the ELPP! In addition, the matching funds are now at a 60% state match and the community only has to provide 40% of the base cost.
This is awesome news! We have it in writing that we are eligible. We will get instructions this week on how to proceed. It normally takes about 18 months to finish all the requirements to move forward. The wonderful news is that we completed all of that work last year. We have it all finished! All of those meetings and work last year is working in our favor.
The Board is already working on our next steps. Depending on the decisions made by the Board members, things could begin to move very quickly. I will keep you updated as information becomes available.
We are about to embark on an exciting endeavor and look forward to serving and uniting our Finneytown community. Stay tuned with our updates on the website and the blog we will be updating regularly.