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Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

Fort Recovery school board refuses state building funds

By William Kincaid
FORT RECOVERY - The board of education Monday night decided not to accept any money from the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) for a high school renovation project.
This is the second year in a row the district has rejected state funds. School Treasurer Lori Koch said the district probably will be in line to receive the funding again next year.
During five recent community meetings, the majority of attendees indicated they do not want OSFC money, as it comes with too many strings attached. They also said they do not want a new high school built onto the elementary/middle school, as they want older and younger students separated.
"I have a tremendously good feeling about the discussion and input," Superintendent David Riel told board members about the recent community meetings.
The state was offering $1.3 million to Fort Recovery to help rebuild or renovate its existing high school. If the district would have accepted the money, school plans would have had to follow state guidelines. Taxpayers also would have had to chip in from $6.8 million to $10.1 million.
The board has proposed five options for the high school, which range from the costliest at $11.9 million to $8.1 million. Some of the plans use state money, while others have taxpayers paying the entire cost.
Riel said votes taken during the last community meeting show the majority of people like option 1 and 1A. These options demolish most of the current high school and replace all classroom and office space; the only difference is option 1 keeps the current science and band wing.
Option 1 is an $11.4-million project, with $1.3 million in state money and $10.1 million in local tax dollars. Option 1A is an $11.95 million project.
Riel also said a vast majority of the participating public said they want to continue with the process. He said this indicated the community is not "fed up" and may want to continue dialogue.
Board member Dan Jutte said there is still no clear-cut solution, while board member Steve Wendel praised the community for their participation.
And the next step in the process?
Koch told the newspaper this morning that Riel has not decided yet upon the next move. However, she said there could be another meeting or the public may be notified by mail.
"We're still trying to decide," she said.
Whatever is done next, Fort Recovery will not be accepting any OSFC funding this year.
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