Committee opts to build new, save gym

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 29, 2005


voters will concur in the fall, the face of Ironton City Schools will be entirely new in a few years, except for the saving of one familiar athletic facility.

The Ironton City Schools Facilities Steering Committee last night voted 15-4 to support Option 3, the plan that will build new schools, but will disconnect and save the Conley Center for non-academic uses.

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The committee could have chosen to remodel Ironton High School and build new facilities for the lower grades (option 1);

build all new schools and include Conley Center in the demolition (option 2),

or come up with their own plan to submit to the state.

The four dissenting votes were cast for option 1. In the end, committee co-chair Lauren Schweikart said the most logical choice was option 3.

"It was a hard decision," Schweikart said. "I grew up in Ironton and I have always loved the way Ironton High School looks. But once you go in, you see a problem. The roof leaks, the wood floors are rotting, there is a terrible odor they say gets worse when it rains. It is really run down and they have tried to patch it up for 30 years. I think option 3 is better for the children and that's the whole point: What is better for the children. We couldn't be concerned with sentimentality."

However, some members of the committee requested that the new high school

have an auditorium, something option 3 did not include.

Superintendent Dean Nance said he will work with the architectural team to design an auditorium into the plans for option 3, so the revised plan can be presented at an upcoming community forum. The forum was slated for this Thursday but Nance said it will be postponed to allow time for the new design work.

The district must let state officials know by June 1 which option it has chosen.

Nance said 121 people had turned in surveys on their option preferences by Thursday afternoon. An additional 40 surveys were handed in at Thursday evening's meeting.

Of the 121 people whose responses had been tallied for Thursday's meeting, 33 said they supported option 1, 12 supported option 2 and 55 supported option 3. Nine people who responded to the survey said the

district should do nothing - neither remodel to build new schools. Eleven people did not specify an option preference but did send in their comments about the issue.

Nance said he is hopes the community will come to the community forum and see the design plans for the new schools and learn more about the plans for the district.

"This decision was not made by the board or by myself. It was the decision of a cross section of the community and I thank them for participating in this committee," Nance said.

"They came to the meetings, talked to people, looked at the surveys. They were charged with a very hard task and I commend them on a job well done."