The Canal Winchester Times

Plans for new high school closer to drawing board

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The Groveport Madison Board of Education approved a resolution at its Aug. 13 meeting that will move plans for a new high school closer to an architect's drawing board.

The resolution of acceptance to participate in the first segment of the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) Classroom Facilities Assistance Program is part of a master plan for the district's buildings. It involves the design and construction of a new high school using more than $25 million in local funds from a voter-approved levy in May and $28.3 million from the state for a total of $53.4 million.

The resolution acknowledges that funds have been reserved by the state and the district in order to proceed with the project.

"It explains that we have been accepted by the state of Ohio in this project and it is for the scope of the project, a completion of a new high school," Superintendent Bruce Hoover said.

Treasurer Anthony Swartz told the board that all the bonds to fund the district's share of the project have been sold.

"Every single bond sold," he said. "The underwriter normally has to buy whatever does not sell on the market. On Thursday, when we got done at 4:30, there wasn't anything left.

"The money will actually come on Aug. 21, so on that date, we will actually have about $34 million -- a little bit more than this because there was a premium paid on some of the bonds," Swartz added.

He said the bond sale also put about $570,000 into the district's bond retirement fund so if there is a problem with collections of taxes, the district will not get behind on its debt repayment.

Board members also approved Hoover's recommendation to hire DeJong-Richter of Dublin for approximately $53,000 to lead the district's "educational visioning committee."

"We thought that DeJong-Richter provided us with optimal vision to help in preparing new opportunities for our kids, meet the needs of our teachers with some additional standards, and had a very good structure and phase-in plan for the actual educational visioning process," Hoover said.

He told the board that he anticipates architects will be presenting proposals and their qualifications to the board at its Aug. 27 work session so that a firm can be selected at the Sept. 10 board meeting.

In other business Aug. 13, the board discussed a proposal to place a cellphone tower on Asbury Elementary School property.

Since the school board owns the property and it is zoned agricultural, Verizon is seeking permission from the district to place the tower at the site before it can seek a conditional use permit from the Franklin County Economic Development Commission.

Swartz said if the board decides to pursue the tower on the property, the school district could negotiate an agreement with Verizon to provide the district or school with services and financial compensation.

Board member Libby Gray asked Swartz to look into whether there are any safety or health issues associated with placing a cell tower on property near children, staff members and area residents.

The board also approved random drug-testing of students participating in athletics, extracurricular and co-curricular activities at the high school.

Students in these activities are also now required to maintain at least a 2.0 grade point average in order to participate.

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