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Sketch offers hint of school#039;s look

A sketch of what could be.

That was the way architect Bruce Runyon described the artist's drawing of one concept for new Ironton High School.

Runyon, of the Columbus firm of Fanning-Howey; fellow architect Shawn Walker of Walker and Associates of Ashland, Ky.; and Ironton City Schools Superintendent Dean Nance sat down Wednesday to, in their words, "crunch numbers"

to develop plans for new elementaries, middle and high schools.

Architects brought along the drawing for discussion. They stressed that the drawing is only an idea and it is unusual for them to have a concept drawing of a new school before approval of the bond issue to pay for them, but this is something to show the public.

"There is still a large amount of school and community input that needs to happen but this is what could be if the community desires it," Runyon said.

The drawing shows the main entrance to the new building would be similar to the current structure.

Does that mean that part of the building could be saved or would a new facade be constructed to resemble the old one? Architects said either is possible.

"It's so early in the decision-making process that is is hard to nail that down," Walker said. "We need to determine the needs of the district before we develop designs."

If the entry is salvageable, does that mean the auditorium might also be saved and new classrooms built around it and the old entry?

Runyon said saving the auditorium presented more problems since it is in the center of the building and is so connected to the rest of the structure.

As for juggling students during construction, Nance said it is possible that the new elementary and middle schools could be built first on land adjacent to the present day middle school.

Once the younger students are transferred to new buildings, older students from the junior high or high school would occupy the old middle school as well as the city's three old elementaries - Whitwell, West Ironton and Kingsbury.

Whether or not new schools are built will depend on whether the public is willing to pay for them.

The state will pay 73 percent of the project's total cost of $41.7 million but the rest will have to be picked up by residents.

If adopted, property owners will have to foot the bill for $11.2 million plus any local initiatives.

While some concern has been raised about the willingness of residents to shoulder yet another tax, Nance pointed out that the construction of new schools could be a huge economic boost to the community, with a new infusion of money being spent in a town with a struggling economy.

There are no concept drawings for the elementary or middle school yet.