The Southwest Licking School District Board of education voted 4-0 during the March 21 board meeting to pass a resolution declaring urgent necessity and waiving competitive bidding for the purchase of a new modular classroom for Etna Elementary School.
Board vice president Cindy Zaino did not attend the meeting.
The board’s actiondoesn’t mean the district won’t be looking for the best deal on a new modular classroom, only that the process of finding one needed to begin immediately if the district is to have it in place for next school year.
Board Member Don Huber said he met with the district building and grounds committee to discuss housing students next year.
“They realized they were coming up a classroom or two short,” Huber said.
He said simply building walls in existing spaces to create more classrooms was impractical.
“Everything would have to be redone,” Huber said. “It would be kind of expensive.”
Huber said, it isn’t just putting up walls, but the public address system would need to be upgraded along with many other details such as climate control, only be torn down at a later date.
He said the committee supported a proposal to purchase a modular unit with two classrooms identical to the units at Kirkersville Elementary School and park it at Etna Elementary, the exact location to be determined.
“That will allow us to do everything we need to do next year without subdividing rooms, then un-subdividing the rooms with expenses both ways,” Huber said.
District Treasurer Richard Jones said he would request three price quotes for a new modular and meet with Superintendent Robert Jennell to determine the best of the three.
He said passing the resolution immediately during the meeting Thursday, March 21, would allow him to shorten the time necessary to find a vendor.
“We’re not going to have a vacant one at Kirkersville, at all?” asked Board Member Debra Moore.
Jones said he looked into moving one from Kirkersville Elementary, but even then, the charge to move it to Etna where it’s needed and installing it could be $30,000 to $40,000.
Jennell said part of the district’s effort to save costs is to bring back the special education units from the county, and special education classes require adequate space.
Placing them into a classroom that’s simply a subdivided room might not be practical.
“We’re very tight (on space) now,” Jennell said. “That’s going to eat up some space, too.”
“It’s better to be safe than sorry,” said Huber, who added it’s tough for him to envision how all available existing space would not be used next school year given the information the building and grounds committee provided him.
Jones said placing a new modular at Etna might also save on transportation costs.
He said last year part of the district’s permanent improvement funding was set aside for a new modular, which is estimated to cost roughly $100,000.
“We have $200,000 set aside (for permanent improvement) this year,” Jones said.
“To use half of that for a modular, it’s not going to affect funding for school buses, technology, textbooks, that type of thing,” he said.
“I think that’s a very important part of this,” said Board President Dave Engel.