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02-09-06 School officials begin process of developing master plan

By Janie Southard

  ST. MARYS -- The school board and district administration launched its first official run at developing a master plan necessary to build a new school complex with Ohio School Facilities Commission funding assistance.

  The board intends to enter into one or more contracts for architectural services in connection with a district-wide construction project, according to Business Manager Kurt Kuffner.

  March 3 at 3 p.m. is the deadline for interested architects to submit qualifications.

  At Wednesday night's meeting, board members voted to dissolve the contract with the now defunct firm who worked on the first (2002) master plan, Firestone Jeros Mullin Inc./TMP Architecture, a joint venture.

  Although the new firms formed from the old joint venture met in St. Marys on Jan. 31 for a public meeting where each expressed interest in working on a new master plan, the board agreed Wednesday night that to engage either could get the board "stuck in some kind of wrangling between the firms."  As there was no financial obligation on the board's part to either group, the board will move forward in the architect search.

  The district learned recently that its position on the OSFC equity list has moved them up to the probability of receiving state funds as early as 2008. This is provided the district can come up with their 40 percent of the new facility costs, a proposition voters nixed in 2002.

  "We need to explain that hiring an architect is an exploratory move to help us see what will be needed. But the most important is input from the community as to what they want and believe we need," said board President Rees McKee.

  Board member Craig Gottschalk reiterated that the board "must have public input before we commit to a new school."

  Also under discussion was the possibility of establishing a non-profit 501C3 foundation focusing exclusively on the school and students.

  Gottschalk said he knew of talk about setting a Hall of Fame and hoped it would not be just for sports. "I would hope it would include professional achievement, community service -- those type things also," he said.

  He suggested an umbrella concept that would oversee a number of foundations.

  "This is nothing against the St. Marys foundation. But I think we need to do something to connect with our alumni rather than just saying 'here's your diploma, see 'ya around'," he said.


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