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Committee suggests K-3 building

Meeting Tuesday night, committee members studying Ironton City Schools’ plans for renovation and construction suggested a new K-3 building might be best.

Wednesday, April 11, 2001

Meeting Tuesday night, committee members studying Ironton City Schools’ plans for renovation and construction suggested a new K-3 building might be best.

About 30 community committee members – from doctors, ministers and teachers to parents and grandparents – met with architects and school officials to discuss three options the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) say would be possible.

All include renovations for the high and middle schools, while two differ in the elementary building issue. Master Plan B builds a new, separate elementary school, while Master Plan C builds an addition to the existing middle school.

Costs range from $25 million to $28 million. All must meet strict OSFC guidelines, which rule out some grade combinations because the state will not fund buildings with enrollments under 350 students.

Most committee members recommended Master Plan B, saying an addition puts K-6 together and that could create problems serving the educational and facilities needs of all the students.

A new building also creates more space overall, they said.

At least one group favored Master Plan C, saying that enrollments are projected to decrease and, in the long run, it would be easier for the school system to take care of only two buildings.

Committee members suggested the leftover elementary buildings be left standing, saying new uses could be found for them.

The OSFC requires the buildings not be used again for education, but there are other community uses for most of the buildings, they said.

The committee was reluctant to make a final choice – required by the OSFC – on which buildings should be left standing, saying the issue needs studied and potential uses found before deciding.

The school board’s architects said the OSFC will want a decision this month.

The demolition or lack of demolition is built into the cost, and the OSFC plans to fund 75 percent of the renovation/construction, said Bruce Runyon of Fanning/Howey Associates Inc.

There was also some discussion about a property tax levy required for the project. The levy is estimated at about 4 mills, although the final figure – including construction bonds and a maintenance levy – will depend on the master plan choice and construction costs.

With only a few dollars a week per property owner, the city gets almost $20 million in construction/renovation dollars, which is a good deal, architects said.

And, the construction plan will be community driven, they said.

The next step is for the board to make a final decision on which master plan to recommend to the OSFC, which will start its budget process this summer, architects said.

If the school system doesn’t get on board with the state this summer, it loses its turn on the school construction funding list, Runyon said.

Superintendent Steve Kingery said the board will meet April 23 to make the decision, and a meeting is scheduled with the state April 26.

"Anyone wanting to get involved is welcome," Kingery said.

A community wide event introducing the project is being planned for May, he said.