Officials from the Olentangy school district have recognized Liberty Township resident John Schuette for his years of service on the district's development committee.

Officials from the Olentangy school district have recognized Liberty Township resident John Schuette for his years of service on the district's development committee.

Schuette is one of the founding members of the committee credited with helping to cut costs on building construction and encouraging developers to donate land for schools.

On June 16, school board vice president Dave King, who has served on the development committee, presented Schuette with the "Community Service Recognition" award which "honors community members who have shown unselfish devotion to the Olentangy schools."

School and Liberty Township officials made a special trip to Wintersong Village, where Schuette is working to regain the use of his legs which were paralyzed after a back surgery, he said.

"The board appreciates the time and dedication you've given," King said.

The committee's first full year of service was 1997, said Andy Kerr, also a founding member and a former board member now working as executive director of operations and facilities.

Schuette said the committee was formed because residents were concerned about the $14-million cost to build Wyandot Run Elementary School in the early 1990s.

The committee includes people with expertise in the construction industry. It worked on the development and construction of Scioto Ridge and Arrowhead elementary schools, Kerr said.

Through savings on such things as the types of construction materials used and eliminating locker rooms and showers from elementary buildings, the committee was able to get the cost of an elementary school down to $8.6 million, Schuette said, noting they eliminated "gingerbread," items that are decorative, but cost a lot, such as terrazzo tile.

Kerr said Schuette is "one special dude," and the community and district are thankful for his contribution.

Schuette, a former Liberty Township trustee, said he got involved with the school district even though his children were out of school.

Knowing population growth would continue to come to the area, he thought it important to construct good, but less costly schools.

"My kids were gone from the district, but I was still paying taxes here," Schuette said. "I got involved because I was upset with the money they were spending unnecessarily for the school buildings. It was important to get involved because you had well-meaning school board members that didn't have expertise in the field and didn't understand the cost."

Schuette said the committee members have expertise in "every aspect of the building."

"I was a site contractor, and you've got to have a site that you can convert cheaply into a school site or one that you want to stay away from," Schuette said of the expertise he brings to the group.

Schuette, a lifelong resident of the area, said it's important for residents to get involved.

"It makes a better community if you care about your community," he said.

Schuette said he will continue to serve on the committee, despite his paralysis.

"If you bite something off, you chew," Schuette said.