2008-12-13 / News

Liberty Union must cut site development costs for new school

By Charles Prince

BALTIMORE - It was a big night for the Johnson family at the Liberty Union-Thurston school board meeting Monday night.

Dan Johnson was honored as teacher-of-the-month. The health, physical education and industrial technology teacher was selected by his fellow teachers. He is also the head football coach.

Board members then honored the Lions football team for its best ever season. The Lions were Mid State League Co-Champions and Division V Regional Champions. Dan Johnson was also recognized for his selection as Division V State Coach-of-the-Year. His son, senior Sam Johnson was honored for his selection to first team All Ohio. He will play football at Ohio University. Son Ben Johnson, who is a high school math teacher, served as an assistant football coach.

High school students-of-themonth were junior Courtney Pettit and senior Matt Stallard. Her parents are Kacy and Julie Pettit. Stallard's parents are Barry and Kathy Stallard.

In other business, architect Joe Schappa updated board members on the plans for the new middle school and the renovation of the high school. The Ohio School Facilities Commission is paying 60 percent of the cost for both projects with local taxpayers responsible for 40 percent.

Schappa said the high school renovation budget has now been reconciled with the construction manager and OSFC. The electrical and mechanical design needs to catch up with the rest of the plans. The biggest unknown at this point is the schedule. "What are we going to do the first summer?" Schappa said. Work will start June 1, but whether it will be electrical and mechanical or classroom renovation is still to be determined. It will take two summers to complete the project.

"We're getting closer to a balanced dbudget," Schappa reported on the middle school project. The big issue is the site development cost. Currently, the construction manager estimates those costs exceed the OSFC's limit by $700,000.

"They (OSFC) allow so much per acre for site development and that's it," Schappa explained. While he believes the cost is closer to the OSFC allowance than the construction manager's estimate, some changes are required.

Schappa suggested two options. The preferred design places the new middle school just to the east of the elementary school. He suggested moving it closer to the elementary school which will shorten roadway and utility extensions. The big savings comes if he can tie its drainage system into the elementary school's system, rather than having to pipe water east and build a detention pond.

Another option is to drop the middle school below the elementary school along Ohio 158. That would require relocating the elementary school play area and preclude adding additional classrooms to at least two of the four classroom wings.

Board members didn't like the second option. "We're just jamming that building in there," Schappa admitted. He will proceed with the first option. " Our goal is to get that site cost down in some way to be able to afford it," he said.

The board's next regular meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 12 in the high school library.

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