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Firelands talks about building new school

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SOUTH AMHERST — The Firelands school board held a special meeting Tuesday to discuss new adjustments for its multiphase building project.

The meeting included talks of accepting new changes to the plan to receive state funding for the project.

The district is attempting to devise a plan to move out of its building at 152 W. Main St. and give it back to the community if a levy passes in November. The new building would house students in grades nine to 12, and the current high school would become a middle school.

On March 22, Superintendent Mike Von Gunten met with treasurer Keri Angney and representatives from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission about the three percent inflationary cost of the project, along with a 5 percent interest rate.

The OFCC promised to still give more than $6.2 million in state funding to the total cost of $22.5 million (adjusted for inflation), so long as the district meets certain conditions, Gunten said.

In order to receive aid from the OFCC, the school must submit a master plan for a building to house all students from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade by April 10. The board will decide on submitting the master plan April 9. Thankfully, the school wouldn’t have to change its project to house students in grades 9 to 12 in the building because it allows the school to complete the building in two phases.

“We’re under no obligation to build the K to eight (school), but in order to receive state funding we need to submit a plan that demonstrates how, in the future we would anticipate educating all of our students,” Gunten said.

The second phase of the master plan has no deadline to finish, Gunten said, and can be completed at the school’s leisure, so long as it eventually does. Under the adjustment, the millage would increase slightly from 3.9 to 4, which would cost the homeowner of a $100,000 home $123 annually.

Moving forward, Gunten said the board needs to consider how this will affect their students as well as respect their taxpayers.

“We want to make sure that what we put in front of our voters meets the needs of out kids but will also build what we’re asking to build,” he said.

The school would then have until the beginning of august to submit the project’s levy to be on the November ballot.

Contact Bruce Walton at (440) 329-7123 or bwalton@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @BruceWalton.



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