Green Primary ‘at end of life’

Published 11:33 am Wednesday, May 27, 2009

FRANKLIN FURNACE — This summer the Green Board of Education can add to its agenda how and when to replace its primary school building.

That comes after reports by engineers from the Ohio School Facilities Commission and Shelley Metz Baumann Hawk, a private engineering in Columbus, on the status of the structure.

Just a few weeks before the close of the school year Green Superintendent Ron Lindsey shut down the circa 1920s building that housed the kindergarten and first and second grades because of its deteriorating condition. Those 206 students were moved to classrooms at the elementary and high schools.

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At that time Lindsey said broken mortar and bricks that had moved in the gym were among the reasons for the closing.

In the following days Stephen Metz of Shelley Metz and engineers from OSFC took separate inventories of the building and filed reports. Both consultants came up with the same conclusion, Lindsey says.

“The gym is unsafe and both say the building is at the end of its service life,” the superintendent said.

Metz said he looked at the building from a purely structural angle and found significant damage.

“A lot of the damage I saw indicates the building is near the end of its useful life unless there is some repair work done and generally when a building is in the shape that this has become it becomes cost-prohibitive,” Metz said in a phone interview. “That doesn’t mean it will start coming a part next week. It needs some work that is generally cost-prohibitive. … Anything is possible if you have enough money.”

Lindsey has proposed modular units be put on the elementary school campus, along with re-arranging classroom use, as a makeshift answer for next fall. However, closing the school permanently will affect more than students because the gym at the site has been a longtime resource for community sports groups and other non-educational organizations.

“If we don’t have a gym for community use that will be a major problem for this community,” Lindsey said. “One gym wouldn’t fit the needs for this community.”

That creates the larger question of how will Green replace the aging structure.

“The next step is to get the law changed or to wait our turn (as far as OSFC funding) and see if we can do a segmented project where you build a part of a facility,” Lindsey said. “That will be a board decision.”

Earlier this month in a letter to Gov. Ted Strickland that was also published in The Tribune as a letter to the editor, Lindsey outlined how he sees the funding formula penalizing his district.

“For us to build a new pre-K to 12 facility, a bond issue in the 20-mil range would be needed. This nearly ‘doubles’ the property tax for my residents. Our local share of a new building project is 54 percent. This is because of our valuation per pupil is inflated by local industry land values,” he wrote.

“Our neighbors, Wheelersburg and Rock Hill, had around a 27 percent and 3 percent respective local share. Their students sit in fabulous new facilities and beautiful athletic complexes while my students sit in decrepit buildings, trailers and substandard facilities. Something is seriously wrong with this formula.”

While as of last Friday Lindsey had not had a response from the governor, he did hear from a member of the state school board.

“He basically said ‘I don’t want schools in my area to be like this,’” Lindsey said.

But as to that being a possible lifeline the superintendent said “I am not going to hold my breath.”