|Preference Indicated For New School Facilities|
|Written by Nancy Bowman|
|Wednesday, 27 November 2013 00:00|
After years of looking at options for Tipp City schools’ facilities, those attending the latest discussion last week indicated a preference for housing students in kindergarten through grade eight in one building.
That option calls for a renovated L.T. Ball school and an addition. It would include separate areas for younger versus older students.
The second option presented at the Nov. 19 facility planning meeting would have the district renovating the L.T. Ball building with an addition for kindergarten through grade five and a remodeled Middle School for grades six through eight.
The cost for each option would be about the same with a local share of around $45 million.
The next step in the process of finalizing a proposal for consideration next year by the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) will be a professional survey, Superintendent John Kronour said.
The commission has notified in late summer notified the district that it is now in line for 26 percent state funding for a classrooms construction project. “That means your number is up,” consultant Mike Ruetschle told those at last week’s meeting.
The OFCC next summer will consider the district’s proposed project. If it is approved, the district will have one year to get voter approval of funding for the local share, now at 74 percent.
Those attending last week’s meeting also were asked to suggest and give priority to other district construction projects that would have to be 100 percent locally funded.
They first were asked to indicate a preference for the location of an athletic complex (stadium). A complex at the high school versus the existing stadium at City Park was favored.
Other locally funded project receiving support were a theater/auditorium for kindergarten through grade eight, a community center and a building using sustainable strategies such as wind and solar.
No cost estimates were provided for any locally funded projects. If the high school option for a stadium were selected, land would need to be acquired, Ruetschle said.
With the OFCC now involved in considering the district for funding, it will complete enrollment projections for the district and an assessment of all buildings.
The board hopes to make a decision on a building master plan by March.
Neither plan involves use of Nevin Coppock or Broadway/Central. Kronour said demolition of Nevin, at the Hyatt Street location with L.T. Ball and the Middle School, is an option. What will happen with Broadway/Central was discussed recently in a meeting with residents who live near the school, but a decision has not been made, he said.
City resident Heather Bailey, who lives near Broadway, said both options for the school buildings create an “educational island” off North Hyatt Street. This, she said, would be “taking from the neighborhood feel of the schools.” She questioned if that the direction the district wants to go.
Another resident questioned if the district wanted to be tied to requirements of OFCC by designing a project to meet its requirements versus a project that might better reflect what the community wants or needs.
Another resident asked if the district would be asking for a construction project, if the state money were not available.
Board of Education member Scott Dixon said the district now spends a lot of money repairing broken items/systems in older buildings.
Kronour said that air conditioning is needed in classrooms and that buildings such a Broadway have infrastructure issues that cannot always be seen. The district has used permanent improvement levy money for fixes but those dollars “already are stretched thin,” he said.
Ruetschle pointed out that older buildings were designed for the way education was provided 50 years and more ago. There are more and different needs today with technology, individual education plans, small group learning and other teaching methods, he said.
“There is a need, an absolute need,” Kronour said.
More meetings to discuss options and needs can be expected in coming months, school officials said.
“We need your input. Share this information with anyone you can,” Kronour said.