Friday, May 14th, 2010
By William Kincaid
Tear down and add on best solution for Fort Recovery schools
  FORT RECOVERY - After six years of tedious consideration, board of education members decided adding on to the existing school is the best option.
A new 47,000-square-foot high school wing will be added to the middle/elementary school, creating an almost consolidated district, according to Superintendent Pat Niekamp. The current high school gym, vo-ag area and commons will be saved.
The rest of the high school - with sections dating back to 1935 - will be demolished.
"The idea is to try to pick the best option for our future," Niekamp told the newspaper Thursday afternoon.
The project cost is estimated at $10.732 million, with the state financing $5.143 million and the district paying $5.589 million.
Board members now must wait on final confirmation from the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC), expected to come in July, and then approve a bond levy proposal for the November ballot.
According to the school, the levy would be 4.6 mills, costing a property owner with a home assessed at $100,000 about $140.88 a year.
Board members unanimously approved a resolution confirming participation in the project at their regular meeting this week.
"Given the input from the community, the cost of the options, the long-term operating cost to the district and the educational advantages, the entire board felt that the best option for the future was building (on to) the PK-8 site," Niekamp wrote in a press release.
Board president Jack Staugler agreed.
"It was a unanimous decision by the board - we were very happy with the information that we had and the time that we spent on it," Staugler said this morning. "While we believe we could have made any of those choices (three options) work, we believe this was the best choice for the long-range planning for Fort Recovery School."
Board members also had considered a $11.037 million renovation of the current high school that would have retained all of the facility except the 1935 section. That option would have cost the district $6.038 million.
The final option would have seen the district using its own money to complete $4.83 million in renovations to the HVAC system, roofs, ventilation/air-conditioning, electrical system, plumbing, windows and other areas.
"I think that this plan allows us to finally move forward with things," Staugler said.
The consolidation will have certain advantages, Staugler said.
"It allows us to make the best use of our personnel, from a teaching standpoint, from a cafeteria standpoint from a clerical standpoint," Staugler said. "It was definitely to me and the board the best approach for us to take at this time."
Staugler said it will be up to the district voters now.
Before coming to a decision, the board held community engagement meetings recently.
"People were sincere. People shared their ideas," Niekamp said.
Those in attendance answered questions through clicking devices.
According to the results, 72 percent of participants believe the community would support a building project today.
When asked if they thought the community would support option one - the addition of a new high school wing to the elementary/middle school - 51 percent of the 78 participants said yes.
"Thanks to the community input groups for sharing their views and questions that will need addressed," Niekamp wrote in a press release. "The intention of the board will now be to focus on how to work with Garmann/Miller (selected architect group from Minster) to come up with the kind of plan for the project that will be meet the needs of our community."
Niekamp said it will take a year to design the school and 18 months to construct.

On the web:
Presentations and results of the community meeting about the building project are available online at the school's Web site, http://fortrecoveryschools.org/Home/tabid/756/Default.aspx.
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