Federal Hocking Pursuing State Funds For Improvement Projects

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Federal Hocking Local Schools’ application for state funding through the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission has been “fast-tracked,” meaning school officials may know as soon as January if money for permanent improvements will be awarded.

The scope of any state-supported projects hasn’t been outlined just yet. But the district’s most pressing needs are to repair deteriorating roofs over the high school gym and high school building. The district also needs new chillers at the high school and elementary schools. Chillers are used to operate the cooling systems. Windows at both the elementary schools also need replaced.

Normally, money through the commission is dispersed in August, explained Treasurer Bruce Steenrod. The exception is being made because the funds approved this summer for projects in other districts aren’t being used. Many times, those districts were unsuccessful in passing levies that were required to come up with the local share. And so, the money isn't being dispersed.

Federal Hocking has been up for state funding for a number of years, but school officials haven't applied for it because the local share was higher than anticipated, added Steenrod.

“Since then, we’ve had leaky roofs that we need to get fixed,” he said. “We’ll have to pay for it anyway. It’s better to get at least some state funding.”

Currently, the local share estimates range between 50 to 67 percent. District officials expect to cover that through the use of board reserves and carryover funds. In other words, the district has already secured the funding and won’t be seeking a levy to cover the local share.

The district won’t know its official local share until the commission completes its assessment. However, board members informally approved a maximum local share of $900,000. The bulk of that money would come from carryover and board reserve funds; $13,000 would come from the general fund. Once the commission presents its reports and the district outlines the scope of the project, the board will formally vote to dedicate the money to a construction fund.

Should the funding be awarded, the district hopes to start construction this summer.