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Thursday, October 13th, 2011

New school site chosen

By Margie Wuebker
NEW BREMEN - School board members Wednesday night selected the likely location for a new K-8 building.
The proposed two-story building would be located to the west of the existing high school off state Route 274. A connector would join the two buildings with seventh- and eighth-graders sharing areas for music, art, physical education and science/technology classes with high school students.
The board also approved a resolution declaring its intention to accept Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) funds. The 80,540-square-foot building carries a price tag of approximately $20.2 million, with $6.845 million coming from OSFC and $13.5 million coming from taxpayers, if a bond issue is approved at the polls. The board intends to put an issue in front of taxpayers at the March 6 election.
Board members selected the location from three options because it allows for shared areas, better visibility from the state highway, better separation of elementary/middle school students from high school students and better potential for playground and green space. The layout also allows for separate student and bus drop-off points and does not disrupt the current south/event parking lot.
Identified as cons were the need to eliminate the driveway from the state highway to the athletic complex and to relocate the band practice field, as well as some utility service to the high school and athletic buildings. Also cited were the distances from the library/media center and the main kitchen at the high school. Plans call for meals to be prepared at the high school and transported to a serving area in the new building.
Other possible locations were south of the high school gym or south of the high school academic wing, both of which involved relocating storm water retention/utilities and delivery service, greater interruption to the south/event parking lot, playground challenges, a potential for wasted space due to long corridors, a longer distance to shared areas and limited visibility from the highway.
"The goal is to have both buildings give the appearance of being one and not two buildings with an umbilical cord," said architect John Freytag from Sidney-based architectural firm Freytag and Associates. "If the K-8 building were to be added directly to the high school, the state would mandate renovations to the high school to bring it up to current standards."
John Basinger attended his first meeting as interim superintendent.
"We need to proceed on a narrowed down focus so the architects can begin detailed drawings. There is no perfect plan - some options are better than others. We need to stay flexible until everything is nailed down," he said.
Preliminary drawings should be ready for the November board meeting, and a facilities committee will be formed.
The board also passed resolutions requesting state approval for the issuance of $13.5 million in bonds and informing the Auglaize County auditor of plans to place a levy on the primary ballot. Treasurer Deb Meyer said the ballot language and needed millage will be available in November.
In other action, the board:
• Reviewed the district's five-year financial forecast showing total revenue of $8.49 million and total expenditures of $8.51 million this school year. Meyer said the cash balance of $5.5 million on June 30 declines each year until reaching a negative balance of $129,736 in 2016. She added the document will change several times before the next submission deadline in May.
• Learned the October "head count" shows 854 students in grades K-12, a decrease of 10 students from the 2010-2011 school year.
• Authorized the Southwestern Ohio Educational Purchasing Council to seek bids for a new bus. Meyer explained the last bus purchases were made in 2002 and 2008 before an economic downturn. The current fleet includes a 1995 and three 1998 models.
• Received an update on the Sept. 28 staff in-service focusing on infusing technology into the curriculum. Reports from the principals also mentioned a special education conference in Columbus and value-added training in Toledo.
• Accepted the resignation of Chad Williams as junior high football facility coordinator due to a conflict with his assistant football coaching contract. Other personnel matters included the issuance of four supplemental contracts.
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