Northwood to build new school
Written by MARIE THOMAS BAIRD Sentinel Education Editor
Wednesday, 05 June 2013 08:44
NORTHWOOD - The Northwood Board of Education has made a decision on the future of its facilities.
At its May board meeting, members decided to on a master plan that includes building a new PK-12 building at a site yet to be decided.
The plan calls for Olney Elementary, Lark Elementary and the 1939 building now known as Northwood Elementary School to be torn down. Northwood High School would be partially torn down with the common spaces including the gymnasium and auditorium maintained for continued community and student use.
The sports complex at the current site also will be kept; it includes a field house, track, and softball, baseball, soccer and football fields.
The district will likely ask voters in November to support the cost of the project.
A combined property tax and income tax is being considered, said Superintendent Greg Clark.
"That has yet to be determined but we're taking the steps to make that possible," he said.
The board has until Aug. 7 to get an issue on the November ballot.
The budget for a new 130,000 square foot school is $33,021,672.
The state will pay for $11,557,585, or 35 percent of the cost, through its Ohio School Facilities Commission. The local share at $21,464,087.
The local share could be higher, but not by much, Clark explained. It would be up to local taxpayers to cover the cost of land acquisition and the "button up" what will remain of the high school, he said.
OSFC has issues with building new on the existing site.
Three of the schools currently sit on the same site, at the corner of Lemoyne and Woodville roads. But OSFC isn't happy with the site as an option to build a new school upon. The state considers the site "industrial" and cites its proximity to Interstate 280 to the west, an underground petroleum pipeline to the east and the railroad tracks to the south.
"They've said they don't like it," Clark said about the OSFC decision. "But if we don't find something we really like in time to tell voters, I'll be having a conversation with (them) about the site."
But, he added, "There are certainly challenges with building on the current site."
"The sites that OSFC has approved are either the current Lark site or the property on Bradner Road," he stated.
Lark Elementary, at 331 W. Andrus Road, sits on 13 to 14 acres.
The Bradner Road site, now farmland, encompasses about 20 acres.
OSFC would prefer the district have a site with at least 40 acres.
Clark said he has had talks with city officials on the option of purchasing land.
Lark sits north of Brentwood Park, and the Bradner Road property, southeast of the current school site, abuts Nature Trails Park and additional farmland. Both parks are owned by the city.
The upside of the Lark site is that one-third of students could walk to school, Clark said.
The downside of the Bradner Road site is the cost of getting utilities to the site, plus the fact that not many students could walk to school.
"Both sites are already approved by OSFC, (both) have some things that are good about them and some things that make people pause about it," said school board President Denise Niese.
The site will have to be finalized before OSFC signs its approval.
There has been no discussion on how long it will take, if the ballot issue is passed in November, to get the new school built.
The decision on a new PK-12 building was made after several community meetings were held to get input on needs and priorities as well as to evaluate current facilities, analyze costs and finalize a master plan.
OSFC representatives had given the district different options. One other option included converting the high school to a PK-12 building.
"It was a 5-0 vote, so I would say we supported the recommendation," Niese said about the board vote in May.
"I believe that the community came together, assessed the wants and the needs of the community and what the community wants and has for our students," she stated.
"It's an exciting time for our district."
Using OSFC funds to build new facilities is not new in Wood County. Already, Elmwood, North Baltimore and Otsego, as well as neighboring Lakota, have utilized state funding help.