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04-15-03: Coldwater may lease Celina school
The Daily Standard
    Coldwater and Celina school district officials are hoping to strike a lease agreement for Celina's Franklin Elementary building in Montezuma.
    Celina plans to close the building at the end of the school year as part of a budget reduction plan. Coldwater school officials hope the building could serve as a temporary home for some of its students during a two-year building project in Coldwater.
    School board members in Coldwater are expected to consider approval of a lease proposal at their April 22 meeting. Celina school board members are not expected to vote on the issue until Coldwater officials give the proposal their blessing.
    Coldwater Superintendent Eric Hoffman said he expects school board members to approve the deal. School officials have said for some time that renting an existing facility like Franklin would be far better than placing students in modular classrooms during construction.
    Celina has offered a two-year lease, with a third-year option that would cost Coldwater $11,000 per month. That figure includes utilities costs, which run about $35,000 per year at the Franklin building.
    "Hopefully they will approve it. It's cheaper than trailers," Hoffman said.
    But superintendents at both districts cautioned that the numbers are not final until approved by both boards. Further negotiation or adjustment to the figures is possible, they both said.
    Coldwater's tentative plan is to move its fifth and sixth grades to Franklin for two years, and possibly a bit longer. The two classes would make up about 250 students.
    The superintendents of the two districts said a lease arrangement would benefit both sides.
    Architects from Fanning/-Howey Associates, Celina, have said the lease arrangement would be an ideal way to deal with logistical issues as construction unfolds at the Coldwater complex. Such an arrangement could even lower construction costs by speeding the work along, they said.
    Adding 47,000 square feet of new classroom space that Coldwater's $30.5 million, state-assisted building proposal calls for would be a lot easier if some students could be moved to an alternative site, both school officials and architects have said.
    Celina also stands to gain if the districts can reach an agreement, Superintendent Fred Wiswell said.
    Leasing Franklin is advantageous for Celina for a number of reasons, Wiswell said. It gives district officials a couple of years to track enrollment figures and future projections so they can better decide if Franklin will have a role in the district's future. It also will help recoup $160,000 that was trimmed from the district's finances due to state budget cuts. Finally, having the building occupied keeps it from sitting idle, Wiswell said.
    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.


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P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822