Tuesday, November 06, 2001

Ross schools plan expansion

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        ROSS TOWNSHIP — An eight-year plan to improve the Ross Local Schools would add two schools, renovate existing buildings and expand two elementary schools at a cost estimated at between $41.6 million and $45.4 million.

        The master facility plan is a joint effort between the Ohio School Facilities Commission and the Ross Board of Education. Under the proposal, the state would pay 48 percent of the cost while Ross would be responsible for 52 percent. Superintendent David McWilliams said the district would be eligible for the state funds during the 2007-08 school year.

        To pay for the district's share of the project, Mr. McWilliams said, he is proposing a combination tax levy to be placed on May's ballot that would be 9 or more mills. The issue would also include operating dollars and a permanent improvement levy. The final package would be reviewed, approved and put on the ballot at the board's December or January meeting, depending on when the OSFC finalizes costs.

        “A lot of thought went into this plan. Even though the numbers (millage) are high, the potential to position this district for the next several decades is embedded in this plan. We will continue to evaluate our numbers,” Mr. McWilliams said. “It is a good investment for Ross' future.”

        The three-phase plan calls for construction of a school for 807 students in grades 9-12. The high school would be renovated as a middle school for 694 students in grades 6-8. Both elementary schools would be expanded with a 13,000-square-foot addition planned for Elda and a 9,100-square-foot addition at Morgan. A third school large enough for 475 students in grades kindergarten to five would be constructed.

        “Under current OSFC standards we are short about 90,000 square feet, or about two football fields,” Mr. McWilliams said.

        There are no plans yet for the middle school, which also houses administrative offices for the district. Once the plan is completed, it would no longer be used as a school building. The cost to upgrade the building to current standards is more than two-thirds the cost to replace it. Under OSCF guidelines, no state money can be used to renovate or expand it.


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