The Canal Winchester Board of Education took another step June 19 toward starting a major construction and remodeling project.

Members agreed to accept the $23.5 million project agreement from the state that allows the district to proceed with renovating and adding on to the high school.

The Ohio School Facilities Commission and the Ohio Controlling Board gave the thumbs up on the project that will add about 50,000 square feet to the high school.

The resolution detailed the project funding, which includes $18.8 million from the state and $4.7 million from the district.

Superintendent Jim Sotlar said the project is a "great deal for our community and for taxpayers" since the state is paying 92.3 percent of the cost and the local share is coming from the district's general fund - not from asking voters to approve a levy or bond issue.

"I think it is important to note that there are not many districts that can approve a building project of this scope without asking for new money," board member Michael Yonnotti said. "This is a wise choice use of money."

The board also approved a resolution that gives the superintendent, once construction begins, the ability to approve change orders up to $50,000 to keep the work on track. Change orders for work that would exceed that amount still will need to be approved by the board of education.

Sotlar said Schorr Architects Inc. of Dublin will handle the architectural design of the addition and aid in the renovation. He said a construction manager for the project is expected to be chosen by the end of August.

Transportation moves

The board approved the purchase of two 77-passenger buses at a cost of $80,380 from Rush International.

Treasurer Nick Roberts said that under the district's capital spending plan, Canal Winchester bought two buses last year and plans to buy two buses per year for the next four years.

"I'd rather pay a little bit now than a lot later," he said. "It's really a good deal for the buses."

The board also approved the purchase of a nine-passenger van at a cost of $28,596 from Wyler Chevrolet. Sotlar said the purchase of the van will eventually save the district money when it comes to transporting small groups of students.