By MINDY MCKENZIE
Daily Globe Staff Reporter
SHELBY - Superintendent of Schools Tim Tarvin provided an in depth look to the potential of the new PreK-8 school building and football stadium, as well as addressing possible renovation plans to the current school buildings during Monday night’s regular board of education meeting.
Tarvin explained the condition of the current elementary buildings and the middle school and how the topic needed addressed.
“One of the things we discussed and that we want to emphasize is that Dowds and Auburn were built in the 1950s and the middle school came in the 1960s. They are starting to have their share of wear and tear and we have discussed this. We have to address these buildings and how we can give our kids an opportunity for 21st century learning in facilities that will allow that to take place,” Tarvin said.
The district was faced with two different options regarding the buildings and Tarvin said those options included renovation or building new.
“We were at the top of the list to be back in the program for the OFCC (Ohio Facilities Construction Commission). They ask us every year if we want to be in the program and you either say you are ready to take a look or you’re not. Well this year, they asked us if we wanted to jump back in the program and I said we wanted to take a look. We are starting to deal with some issues that we are going to have to address and we are going to have to make a decision. They gather this information for you at no cost, so they have done all sorts of studies,” Tarvin said.
Tarvin discussed costs to renovate Auburn, Dowds and the middle school. Regarding Auburn the renovation cost would be $6.5 million, Dowds was listed at $5.3 million and the middle school would cost $22.4 million. In total for renovations to all three schools, the cost would be around $34.2 million.
“People say well how can the middle school be at $22.4 million because it is a newer building. These numbers take a lot of different things into account. It takes the size of the space to replicate, the condition of the entire building and a number of different variables. That number $22.4 million is not our number, that is the state of Ohio. These numbers are provided to us by the OFCC,” Tarvin said.
Tarvin stated the renovation cost of $34 million was just the minimum.
“That is a minimum number it would take to renovate those three buildings. As we all know going through a construction process, you have cost over runs and things change throughout,” Tarvin said.
Then, Tarvin explained numbers were kicked back to the district on what it would cost to build a PreK-8 school building.
“As we all know now, $32,164,429 would get us a brand new Pre K-8 building. This building would cost less than what it would take to renovate our three buildings,” Tarvin said.
The building would be behind (north of) the current middle school, however would be south of the baseball fields.
Looking ahead, Tarvin explained the district needed to provide both of the options to the residents of the community.
“We need to give those options to the community. That is the responsible thing to do. Our buildings are getting older so what are we going to do about them? We can either renovate or you can build new,” Tarvin said. “I guess you could let them sit and do patch work, but this community has never been about that. We know as board members and district administrators it is not our responsibility to stick our head in the sand and pass it on to the next guy. You have got to make a tough decision sometime. We could put it off for ten years, but our number might not come back from the OFCC. The longer you wait, the more the costs will go up. So, we can renovate or build new. We just feel it is the appropriate and responsible thing to do to have the community understand that and give the information to them. Then, they can decide whether to build new or renovate.”
As far as building new, Tarvin explained it would save the community money.
“The OFCC would cover 50 percent of the cost of this new building. The taxpayers would pay about $16 million,” Tarvin said.
By putting all of the students on one campus, Tarvin explained the district would be able to save costs on utilities, transportation and staffing.
“I think the board is seriously considering hiring a student resource officer. This is an excellent opportunity for that individual to build relationships with all of our kids on one campus,” Tarvin said.
Construction of the facility would also be done on existing school district property, Tarvin added.
“We wouldn’t have to go out and purchase land like we did with the high school,” Tarvin stated.
With the PreK-8 building, the millage rate for the project would be 3.9 mills. With 3.9 mills, the annual cost to someone who owns a home valued at $100,000 would be $136, or less than $12 per month.
“The ballot language is for $16,470,000, that is $387,786 more than what was first said. There is a little bit extra on the ballot language to cover Locally Funded Initiatives for the building. For this whole thing it is almost $39 million. The district and OFCC are kicking in $22.7 million and the community is being asked to put in the $16,082,174 for this. When we are done with this, we would have a high school that would be six or seven years old and then this building would be brand new. Then, we would be good for the next 60 years,” Tarvin said.
Issues have been brought up regarding students attending a PreK-8 school, Tarvin explained.
“I have had people say they don’t want their first grader in the same hall as an eighth grader. I can understand that, so when the building is designed the emphasis will be that we want to separate primary from intermediate and then primary and intermediate from middle school kids. Now, they will use some of the same spaces. Willard just built a K-12 building and they have had very few issues as in regard to what we are talking about. There is a lot of thought into this,” Tarvin said.
As far as the football stadium, Tarvin explained the stadium would be placed on the edge of the middle school property where the academic wing currently stands.
Tarvin discussed the construction process if the levy happened to pass on the November ballot.
“They would construct this Pre K-8 building and kids would never have to be disrupted during school day. That is a downside to renovating because kids will be there. By building new, you never have to deal with that issue. When the building would get completed, the academic wing would get razed,” Tarvin said.
The David A. Jones Little Theater, the Joe Yohn Gymnasium, music rooms, the commons, locker rooms, and the kitchen area would be preserved and would still get use from the district, Tarvin added.
“Our thought is that the kids can still use the gym and the music room. We will be able to tie it into the future building, by placing it right here we will be able to keep nearly 50 percent of the square footage of the middle school and reuse it. Not just for the stadium, but for academic purposes with this building,” Tarvin said.
Once the academic wing would be razed, construction of the football field would then move forward where the academic wing is currently located. The field would run north and south.
“The hope would be that we would be able to replicate Skiles Field as much as we possibly can. I think people are coming to terms with the fact that the football stadium is deteriorating. We have annual inspections and the safe usage of the stadium is four to eight years. We want to make sure we have something in place before that time gets here,” Tarvin said.
Tarvin also explained by placing the new stadium at the location presented, it would allow Skiles Field to be replicated as much as possible. This would include stands close to the fields and the Dog Pound in the end zones.
“This will save us a big chunk of money, roughly around a $1 million by putting the stadium at this location. If we place the stadium somewhere else, the cost will increase because you don’t have big concession stands, you don’t have bathrooms, locker rooms, or parking. Back by the track wouldn’t be terrible for parking, but the cost savings comes into play because we are close enough that we can use the utilities that currently run to the middle school to service our football stadium,” Tarvin stated.
With the new stadium, Tarvin explained the district had to provide a number of restrooms for the facility.
“This would seat 3,700 people, which is exactly what Skiles Field can seat. This has been on a tight timeline and a blueprint is being worked on to show everything a little bit better. If you can picture yourself in the commons of the middle school, there is a hallway that runs down. There is an art room and multiple disability room that we are going to keep, but we are going to repurpose them into bathrooms and a concession stand,” Tarvin said.
Tarvin explained the district believed the construction of the new school would be in the best interest of the children and the community.
“We have to do something with the schools, they can’t be ignored. The fact is when buildings start to approach 65 and 70 years old, a lot of things need addressed. So, do you spend millions of dollars and still end up with 65 to 70 year old buildings or do you build new and have a brand new building?” Tarvin stated.
As far as the current schools and the future, Tarvin explained that was something which would need to be discussed and addressed.
“We could keep them or sell them. To keep them we would have to maintain them, but the state does give a demo allowance to tear buildings down just like they did with the old middle school. The property is ours, so we could keep that or sell it,” Tarvin said.
Former Shelby Whippet Band Director Lisa Baker asked Tarvin if the district had thought about having two separate issues for the stadium and the new school building.
“We gave it consideration and we even thought maybe we should build two different buildings. We found out quickly that you save a lot of money by having one building. I love the athletics and I am going to support those programs every chance I get, but I am also a tremendous believer in performing arts and academics. I think we would do ourselves a disservice by separating an athletic venue issue from an academic venue issue. By putting them together, we are putting just as much emphasis on academics as athletics and vice versa,” Tarvin said.
After discussions, the board unanimously approved a resolution to proceed with the PreK-8 building for the November ballot.