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Bond fund transfer goes toward new Fairland track

ROME TOWNSHIP — Excess dollars in Fairland School District’s bond retirement fund have been turned into a way for the district to get a new track at the high school.

Friday the Lawrence County Budget Commission approved a request by the school district to move $600,000 from the bond fund to the school’s permanent improvement fund.

“Our immediate need is the track,” Fairland Superintendent Roni Hayes said.

This spring the high school only used the track for practices, holding meets at other district locations. Originally built in 1985, the rubber surface of the current track was put down 20 years ago.

In 1998 the voters approved a 3.52 mill bond levy that was based on property values for the county’s portion of the Fairland District at $84 million.

“That figure has more than doubled in the last 15 years,” County Auditor Jason Stephens said.

Current property values for that same district are now approximately $187 million. When values start rising, the millage normally is reduced so that the district collects the same amount as at the start of the bond. However, a district is often allowed to collect the top millage for a while to give it a cushion in the bond retirement fund.

Last month the school district refinanced the balance of that bond, which was $1.75 million, through the county’s Neighborhood Investment Program, reducing the district’s interest rate payment.

That savings added to the cushion in the retirement fund gave the district the surplus.

A recent change in the law now allows school district earlier access to excess money in the bond retirement fund.

“A surplus in the fund can be transferred to the permanent improvement fund before the bond is actually paid off,” Stephens said. “It’s a tool of Governor Kasich to address the needs of the constituents.”

The district is advertising for designers for the track with Wednesday as the deadline to send in qualifications. The school board will meet on May 14 to review the resumes of those interested in the project.