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03-12-03: Franklin school may get new lease on life from Coldwater school board
The Daily Standard
    MONTEZUMA - The Franklin Elementary School in Montezuma holds tremendous promise as a stop-gap measure that could allow a construction project at Coldwater Exempted Village Schools to mov  forward with fewer logistical headaches for designers and school officials.
    A group of about two dozen school board members, administrators, teachers and architects toured the Celina City Schools' facility Tuesday afternoon. The Celina district is closing the building at the end of the school year as a budget reduction measure.
    Coldwater school officials are interested in possibly renting the facility to temporarily house a portion of its student body as a $30.5 million construction and renovation project unfolds at its existing buildings.
    "I'm very impressed. This would definitely be a lot better than modulars," Superintendent Eric Hoffman said.
    The overall cost and creating the best possible environment for students will be the key considerations in making a deal for the building, school board President Jerry Meyer said.
    The Coldwater district tentatively would house two elementary grade levels at the Franklin building for as long as two and a half years. The Franklin building has about 29,000 square feet, including 11 classrooms, a gymnasium/cafeteria and stage area, administrative offices and a media center.
    The building was originally constructed in 1941 with an addition in 1955. In the late 1990s, Celina City Schools spent about $2 million on another addition and renovations.
    Leasing a facility such as Franklin would be ideal as opposed to housing students in modular classrooms or working around them in some other fashion, said Terry Liette, an architect with Fanning/Howey Associates, Celina, the firm Coldwater has hired for its building project. Such an arrangement could even lower construction costs by speeding the work along, he said.
    "This would be a great situation for both us and the construction team," Liette said. "It would provide flexibility for contractors and a safer environment for the students."
    Because of the nature of the existing Coldwater campus and the project proposal, architects must find a way to add 47,000 square feet of new classroom space, renovate existing spaces and connect the entire complex, all while education continues inside the existing walls.
    "This could be a win-win for everyone involved. If they asked us our advice, we would recommend it," Liette said.
    Not everybody was so pleased about Tuesday's tour.
    Coldwater officials were greeted in Montezuma by signs mounted on white, plastic buckets every couple hundred feet. The signs said "Save Our School," and showed Coldwater's Cavalier logo with a slash through it.
    The signs were what everyone was talking about as the Coldwater contingent trickled in. Several said the signs gave them an uneasy feeling that they are not wanted. Others pointed out that it would be better for Celina to rent the building to a user than let it sit idle.
    Celina Superintendent Fred Wiswell said he did not know who placed the signs along the road.
    The next step in the process is for the superintendents to hammer out a potential lease agreement.
    Wiswell said there has been no such discussion to this point.
    In addition to the lease costs, Coldwater officials also would have to weigh transportation costs to bus students to Montezuma and the $25,000 annual cost to provide utilities at the building.
    Back in Coldwater, at the regularly scheduled board meeting, school board members finalized a list of operation and design goals for the construction project.
    Project goals include meeting educational and safety needs of students, honoring promises made during the levy campaign and completing the work on time and within the budget. Other goals include safely and efficiently doing the work as students remain in the building complex and maintaining open communication among all the parties involved.
    Design goals include favoring materials and systems that will provide long-term value rather than short-term savings and to respect culturally important parts of the existing school buildings. Passive and active security features and smooth site circulation were other goals listed. School planners also aim to provide comfortable educational spaces with natural light that accommodate the latest technology and teaching methods.
    In other business Tuesday, board members:
    - Accepted the resignation of bus driver Pauline LoBianco.
    - Accepted the resignation of teacher Amanda Chivington, who also resigned her junior high volleyball and softball coaching positions.
    - Accepted the donation of a Komatsu forklift from Celina Aluminum Precision Technology.
    - Discussed but took no action setting up a returned check fee and collection schedule.
    - Authorized the treasurer to seek bids for gas and diesel for the next school year.
    - Took no action after an executive session called to discuss employment contracts.


Phone: (419)586-2371,   Fax: (419)586-6271
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