Through Ohio's Straight A Fund, local school systems could have the opportunity to make $5 million in improvements, North Central Ohio Educational Service Center Superintendent Jim Lahoski said at the North Central Ohio Regional Council of Governments meeting Wednesday.
Ohio's Straight A Fund gives educators the opportunity to apply for funding for projects that will help meet learning needs, reduce the cost of running a school or school district or bring more funding to the classroom.
Lahoski said the $5 million project application was created in collaboration with Seneca East Schools, Tiffin City Schools, Seneca County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Vanguard-Sentinel Career and Technology Centers and NCOESC.
Lahoski said if the grant is approved, a compressed natural gas station is to be built in Tiffin, along with creation of a slow-fill compressed natural gas station service program at Seneca East Schools and the purchase of 10 school buses for Tiffin City Schools, Board of Developmental Disabilities, Vanguard-Sentinel Career and Technology Centers and Seneca East Schools.
He said the application also contains a training site for students at Vanguard-Sentinel Career and Technology Centers to learn to troubleshoot, manage and complete maintenance on compressed natural gas vehicles.
He said a local vendor is interested in becoming a service provider for the training site, along with offering a pre-apprenticeship opportunity.
Lahoski said NCORcog is encouraging private businesses to get involved in CNG to join in the possible venture.
He said the next round of eliminations in the grant process is to be announced in December.
In other business, Seneca County Commissioner Fred Zoeller said the contract has been awarded to complete a study for improvements to SR 53.
He said the next step would be a meeting among representatives from each county in the Transportation Coalition of North Central Ohio to narrow the scope of the project. By narrowing the scope, each county is to be able to voice an opinion on project priorities, Zoeller said.
He said Seneca County is to pay for $25,000 of the study, and half of that is to come from private donors. He said $9,000 has been raised in private funding. Total cost of the study is $100,000.
When the plan is in place, Ohio Department of Transportation is to implement the work in increments.
He said he hopes to meet with the coalition in December.
NCORcog Director John Davoli said he met with staff of the Local Government Innovation Fund Council concerning the status of the LGIF grant. He said he received updates on the procedure to apply for the grant and said he is optimistic about the application.
He also said the amount of funding that can be received has been dropped from $100,000 to $50,000.
Davoli said the Safe Route to Schools Grant application is moving forward and the committee is to present an update to Tiffin City Council Dec. 16.
Davoli said the LGIF council discussed applying not only for $500,000 for infrastructure improvements, but also $50,000 for educational purposes. He said that money could go toward programs in the elementary schools to promote a healthy lifestyle, along with providing information about being safe on the walk to school.
Davoli said the study on a joint Seneca County/Tiffin court facility is going well. The study is funded completely by the state and is not utilizing any local funding.
Lahoski also spoke about the dark fiber project, a fiber-optic system to connect some of the COG communities, and said NCORcog now is considering a wireless system of conductivity points and towers.
With wireless, he said project funding was cut approximately in half.
He said wireless would allow the council of governments to open up the application to townships, villages and other areas.
Lahoski also thanked Don Coletta, superintendent of Tiffin City Schools, for his service to the organization.
NCORcog is to meet at 10:30 a.m. Jan. 15.