Wednesday, November 29, 2000

Talawanda weighs new schools

Plan sets out $3.65 million worth of projects

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        OXFORD — Just three weeks after passing an operating levy, officials in the Talawanda school district are turning their attention to facilities.

        “Now that we know we have the money to operate, we have got to look at our buildings,” school board President William Vollmer said. “We still have to decide what to do with Stewart (Elementary School). Are we going to keep using it?”

        Two ballot issues that would have provided operating funds and money to build a high school, close Stewart Elementary and refurbish other buildings were defeated at the polls in the last 15 months.

        As a result, the district gave up its option to buy 157 acres on Millville-Oxford Road for a high school.

        Negotiations with Thriftway to purchase Stewart also were halted.

        The board is now studying a five-page capital improvement plan prepared by Facilities Director Tony Buttery that outlines 79 needed improvements to district buildings with a preliminary cost of $3.65 million that includes most, but not all, projects.

        The improvements and maintenance work are in the areas of roofing, paving, plumbing, electrical, building facades, interior walls and doors and heating/ventilating systems. They don't include classroom additions or replacing Stewart, Assistant Superintendent Phil Cagwin said.

        “All these improvements would do is make that building livable. They would not enhance it as an educational building. We still have air quality problems there. We know humidity is a problem because of water problems,” Mr. Cagwin said of Stewart.

        “We have to discuss whether we want to keep pouring money into an old building or seek funding for a new building.”

        At 46,580 square feet, Stewart is the district's second-smallest building and its oldest, sitting on 8 acres on College Avenue.

        The report outlines 20 improvements at a cost of $991,000. That cost is second only to Talawanda High School, earmarked for 17 projects at a cost of $1.2 million, which does not include the cost of classroom additions.

        “The high school needs science labs,” Mr. Vollmer said. “The science situation is horrible. We have a lot of nonfunctioning labs.”

        The report will be discussed by the school board Monday during its 7:30 p.m. work session at Talawanda Middle School.

        Any kind of addition or new school construction would require a bond issue, probably next fall, Mr. Vollmer said.

        “We have a lot of hard decisions to make,” Mr. Cagwin said.

        “But we want input from as many people as possible.”


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