Friday, June 15, 2001

Talawanda schools need $41M upgrade

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        OXFORD — Bringing the Talawanda Schools up to current standards would cost about $41 million, which includes the cost of replacing Stewart Elementary School, consultants for the Ohio School Facilities Commission said.

        If the school board approves a master plan that meets the commission's approval, the state would pay for part, though Talawanda would cover about three-quarters of the costs.

        The district wouldn't be eligible for the funds until 2009-2011, according to Talawanda Treasurer James Rowan.

        “All the plans say eliminate Stewart. They all say renovate the others,” said Phil Cagwin, assistant superintendent who reviewed the highlights of the state's 6-inch-thick report during a board work session Wednesday. “They're significant and substantial renovations.”

        Not needed, the report says, is a new high school. It had been proposed by the board in 1999 and last year, but voters twice rejected bond issues to fund it.

        Commission standards say if the cost to repair any building is two-thirds or greater of the cost to build new, it won't pay any money toward renovations. It would cost more than $4.9 million to repair Kramer and $7.5 million to build new.

        “Kramer is so close to the line,” said William Vollmer, board of education president. “If we intend to save it, that decision has to be made soon. If we wait too long, the cost will put it over the line.”

        The costs to renovate the other schools: $3.3 million at Maud Marshall Elementary, built in 1968 with additions in 1989 and 1997; $5.1 million for the middle school, built in 1989; and $10.9 million at the high school, built in 1957 and added on to in 1960, 1969 and 1989.

        Board members asked Mr. Cagwin to get cost estimates from the consultants to add classrooms at Kramer and Marshall instead of building a new elementary school. That would save the cost of land, which would not be reimbursed by the state.

        Any plan eventually adopted would require a bond issue to raise the district's matching share of the project.

        “It's like a big jigsaw puzzle,” board member Robert Sherman said.


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- Talawanda schools need $41M upgrade
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