from the Coshocton Tribune, June 20, 2014
WARSAW — Keene Elementary School is 100 years old and has a slate roof.
Warsaw Elementary School has electrical wiring so old and unable to be upgraded that just turning on a fan on a hot day can blow a circuit.
Union Elementary is so rural that bandwidth is so narrow making a phone call can kick students off the internet like an old dial-up connection. This will lead students to be bussed to Warsaw this coming school year to take mandated online state testing.
River View Local Schools District is in the preliminary stages of considering a major facilities project. This could include the construction of new elementary schools, replacing the current four including Conesville, and renovations to the junior high and high school buildings along with a restructuring of classrooms.
A steering committee was formed at the beginning of last school year featuring 14 community members and district staff. It recently went over project options with an architectural firm. A master plan is targeted to be in place by February 2015, said Superintendent Dalton Summers, and no decisions have been made.
Options include various levels of upgrades to the existing junior and high school buildings with the construction of one, two, or three new elementary buildings. A new elementary building to house approximately 500 students would be around $12 million to $15 million, whereas the work needed at the upper two schools is estimated at $6.5 million.
A major consideration is if the district wants to pursue the project independently or in cooperation with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission. Due to requirements, the renovation projects at the junior high and high school could balloon to $30 million. It also wouldn’t chip in on elementary renovations and would only pay for construction of new buildings due to their age and disrepair.
The state would pay 23 percent of the basic construction cost for the River View project. That is in contrast to the recent construction of Coshocton Elementary School, which opened last October, where the state provided 67 percent of the estimated $24 million cost. Summers said the difference is the property evaluation of the River View district is higher than Coshocton’s, leading to the OFCC offering less funding.
About a year ago, Garaway Local Schools in Holmes County chose to pursue a facilities project without state involvement as it was seen to be more cost effective for the district and local taxpayers.
Summers said it’s not cutting corners, but making a levy or bond issue for residents as low as possible while still being able to do what the district needs.
Summers said the steering committee is considering safety, financial efficiency, technology needs and location in talks. He said those ideas came from a community survey last fall on what residents thought the most important aspects of a facilities project should be.
“Rather than come up with a plan and sell it to voters, we want the voters, the community, to help us come up with a plan before they vote on it,” he said.
Among possibilities is adding sixth grade to the junior high building or moving seventh and eighth grades to the high school and using the junior high building for an elementary school. Renovations to those structures also wouldn’t need to be all at one time if the district chose not to go with the OFCC.
“The committee has definitely established a need for new facilities. What we’re trying to do now is determine what are those needs, what does River View have to do and what doesn’t it have to do,” Summers said.