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|03-12-03: Franklin school may get new lease on life
from Coldwater school board
|By TIMOTHY COX
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
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
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
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
- Discussed but took no action setting up a returned check fee and
- Authorized the treasurer to seek bids for gas and diesel for the next
- Took no action after an executive session called to discuss
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