The Bexley City Schools (BCS) pays for replacement of the astroturf field at the Bexley Carlton Smith Stadium located at the Cassingham Complex with zero tax dollars from the taxpayers. The District’s unique revenue source leverages dollars earned through leasing local cell phone towers.
The new turf on the field is fully installed and ready for the fall season of sports, which began August 1. Additionally, the field is used for a wide variety of student activities beyond athletics, including physical education, field days, classroom use, and commencement each year.
BCS is 77.25% funded by local taxes compared with only 22.75% of the district’s budget which is generated through state, federal and other grant sources. As a result of its reliance on local sources, the district entered into an agreement to lease the cell tower between the stadium and the high school nearly 20 years ago. The cell tower lease agreement generates approximately $75,000 per year for the district’s Permanent Improvement (PI) fund through payments.
PI funds are limited in their use and function. As defined by the Ohio Revised Code, allowable uses include any property, asset or improvement with an estimated life or usefulness of five years or more. Examples of proper allocation are land purchases, reconstruction, renovation, enlargement or extensions. The district cannot use PI funds for salaries, benefits, or short-term purchases.
These funds allow school districts to make necessary repairs, like the turf replacement, and finance the work over time, much like homeowners use a mortgage to pay for their purchase over a 15- or 30-year period. To date, BCS has financed all improvements in cash, although financing options remain available.
“The cell tower funds are a win-win-win for the district,” added Treasurer Kyle Smith. “It provides a unique and creative revenue stream that does not require excess administrative burdens or take up a lot of space. Moreover, the funds allow the district to maintain and improve the student experience at every level of Bexley City Schools.”
In the past five years, the district has leveraged $2.8 million in PI funds for updates to facilities, technology, theater, the track, tennis courts, playgrounds, transportation, cafeterias and other miscellaneous needs around the district.
The district continues to use strong fiscal practices, including leveraging PI funds, to ensure facilities are adequately maintained and are able to continue to provide safe and engaging learning environments for students, staff, and the community