JERRY CITY – Elmwood Schools was considering expanding its building to accommodate more students and programs.
And then coronavirus hit.
At Monday’s board of education meeting, members addressed what to do with the projects, which included expanding the school building, refurbishing the Community Center and updating the playground.
“I don’t know what the answer is,” responded Superintendent Tony Borton.
In March, the board heard a presentation from Garmann Miller & Associates as to the costs associated with each project.
“Is it something we want to continue looking down that path, or is it something for later,” Borton asked.
“For me, it is something we need to address … it is something we have to long-term plan for,” he said.
The preK-12 building was designed for the addition of classrooms at each of the wings.
Board member Melanie Davis asked if the extension is needed to accommodate enrollment growth or storage needs.
It’s the number of teachers and the offerings that are causing a space shortage, Borton said.
Right now, health classes are being held in the Community Center, as are the Royal Academy and special needs classes.
The selections offered take a teacher and there is no room in the main building, he said.
Space-wise, the district is doing OK this fall, he said.
The Royal Academy, which is offering online classes to students who do not like the bricks-and-mortar option, has 120 students enrolled.
Twenty-five students are being homeschooled and 50 left the district for either a different online option or moved to another town.
Overall, the district is down 80 students this fall, he said.
Board member Debbie Reynolds suggested waiting to see what happens with the coronavirus and address the projects next spring.
“I don’t want to just let it sit and do nothing, but at the same time it’s probably not the thing we want to do now,” Borton said.
“There is not a sense of urgency to move forward right not, but this isn’t going to go on forever, not having 120 students in the building,” said board member Brian King.
“The trend is that the school is growing, and we are rapidly running out of space,” he said.
He thinks the projects should stay on the radar and the board needs to put the appropriate plans in place to get things ready to go.
Adding an extension, from design work to construction, would take about two years, according to the architects.
“We really should continue to focus on the planning side of it without the commitment to whether we move forward or not, but to be ready to go,” King said.
Borton said he will let the architects know the district is still considering the project.
King said another reason to continue the conversation is to fix the playground.
Doing just the base bid of replacing the existing asphalt area and adding new basketball hoops to the playground was estimated at $126,000. Adding new fencing, tables and benches and a mulch pad would bring the cost to about $213,000.
There also is around $36,000 in architect fees.
Reynolds said she thinks the project can be done for less than the $250,000 that was quoted.
King also said part of the overall building plans need to address the parking lots, which are deteriorating.
The lifespan of a parking lot is typically 15-20 years and the ones in place have been there 16 years, he said.
In other news, Borton reported the district was looking at its options for its athletic league.
The Blanchard Valley Conference has invited Elmwood and the Northern Buckeye Conference is looking to expand, he said.
The high school principals in the NBC met Tuesday to discuss an expansion plan.
Borton said if the NBC added more small schools, it would help Elmwood.
“Expanding small schools gives us the competitive edge,” Borton said.
The discussion in the conference is whether to add two schools and go to 10 or add four and go to 12, he said.
Reynolds said the impact on all sports needs to be considered, not just football.
“It’s at least worth hearing out before we make a decision,” Borton said.
Also at the meeting, the board:
• Learned the district coronavirus dashboard will start separating those students and employees in isolation and in quarantine.
“We’ve had no positives in the building that we are aware of,” Borton said.
A couple students a day go to the isolation room for exhibiting at least two symptoms such as a runny nose and stomach ache. They are then sent home.
• Found out the Rover pipeline filed an appeal Friday to the state board of tax appeals, said Treasurer LuAnn Vanek.
They have paid 57% of what is owed and is appealing to pay 49.25%, she said.
If they win, the district will have to pay back $251,000 with interest.
If the appeal fails, the pipeline company likely will go to the Ohio Supreme Court.
• Learned the district is being looked at like a petri dish as to how holding in-person classes five days a week is faring.
“If you want it, you will find a way to make it work,” King said. “I think we’re on the right path. We’re doing what’s right for the kids.”
Davis said she has received a lot of positive feedback for that decision.”
• Accepted donations from: Wood County United Way, 30 backpacks of school supplies; from the Jake and Lu Feasel Memorial Fund via the Athletic Boosters to the athletic department, $5,000; from Bradner and Wayne United Methodist churches to Elmwood Community Services, $800, and to the cafeteria fund, $800; from Eric and Robin Reynolds to the Elmwood Food Pantry, $200; from Cindy Stockwell to the girls basketball program via the Long Memorial, $50; from Cindy Stockwell to the football program via the Borsos Memorial; and from the athletic boosters to the athletic department for the Hudle sports package, $5,700.