2011-09-17 / News

Two chances to visit old middle school before demolition

By Charles Prince

BALTIMORE - It’s time to say goodbye to the old Liberty Middle School. Bids to demolish everything except its now renovated auditorium are due September 19.

Two last chance tour dates were set at Monday night’s school board meeting. The school will be open from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturdays, Sept. 17 and 24. Visitors can come in and walk around while school maintenance staff is clearing the building for demolition.

The demolition bid package includes repaving the existing parking lot behind the high school, creating additional parking on the old middle school site and possibly - dependent on how bids come in - repaving the parking lots on the other side of Washington Street. The estimated cost is $820,403.

The district offered the building to the Basil Joint Fire District for training purposes before demolition begins. The offer was accepted. Superintendent Paul Mathews expects abatement, primarily for asbestos floor tiles, to begin Oct. 10 with actual demolition starting Oct. 31. Arrangements have already been made to save some bricks for anyone wanting a souvenir.

In other business Monday night, Mathews updated board members on the district’s continuing construction projects. Bids for the new maintenance building and secure bus parking area are due Sept. 23. The estimated cost for the district’s last construction project is $611,625.

Work continues on the new administration building behind the elementary school. The roof has been shingled and workers are waiting for the windows to arrive. Once the windows are installed, the exterior brickwork will be started. Mathews expects the building to be done by the end of the year.

Wrap-up work continues on the high school renovation project. Some balancing is still needed on the new HVAC system and some flooring issues are being resolved.

“We got in - barely,” Mathews commented on the new middle school. Its occupancy permit was issued until August 29, giving teachers and staff members just over a day to prepare for students on August 31. Classrooms were ready though flooring work continues after students leave for the day. Students have been picnicking for lunch at two nearby picnic shelters with food prepared in the elementary school cafeteria. The new middle school cafeteria started preparing meals Sept. 13.

The gym floor is down and is currently being lined and finished. Bleachers must still be installed. Mathews expects it will be another two to three weeks before the gym is available for students. He praised teachers, staff members and students for their patience and flexibility. “I think things are going pretty well over there,” he said. “It is a great building.”

In other business Monday night, high school principal introduced the five new teachers this year: Jena Friesner - vocational agriculture; Liberty Union graduate Megan Gonzalez - Spanish; Jerry Jacobs - physics and upper level math; Lisa Ruff - intervention specialist; and Ken Schaefer - high school technology.

Board members unanimously approved the following supplemental contracts:

• Ken Schaefer - yearbook advisor;

• Amanda King and Holly Lavender - teacher mentors;

• Erin Rodriguez - spelling bee advisor; and

• John Putnam - varsity football volunteer.

Tammy Landis’ resignation as bus driver was accepted. She was later approved as a substitute bus driver/aide. Besty Alt was approved as a substitute handicap/ teacher aide.

Board members also accepted a $42,704.48 Ohio EPA grant to buy 13 pre-heaters for the district’s school buses. The pre-heaters reduce pollution from the diesel engines on startup and eliminate the need to use plug-in engine block heaters during the winter. The district must buy a 14th heater at approximately $3,400 as its match for the grant. “It is a great deal,” Mathews said. Liberty Union is the only district in Fairfield County receiving the grant.

Mathews also updated board members on the realignment options being considered by the Mid-State League. The realignment was prompted by the decision of the Licking County members to form their own league. Canal Winchester is also leaving.

Mathews said the realignment committee is currently recommending a three-division structure based entirely on OHSAA enrollment numbers. Adjustments would be made every four years based again based on changes in OHSAA enrollment numbers.

The proposed divisions are:

• Big: Teays Valley (highest enrollment in the league), Hamilton Township, Whitehall-Yearling, Logan elm, Circleville and Fairfield Union.

• Medium: Bexley, Amanda-Clearcreek, Bloom Carroll, West Jefferson, Liberty Union-Thurston and Columbus Academy.

• Little: Grandview Heights, Berne Union, Fisher Catholic, Harvest Prep and Millersport (lowest enrollment in the league.

The committee is also recommending that three new schools – Fairfield Christian, Grove City Christian and Worthington Christian – be added to the “little” division.

“Our input has been that this is not acceptable,” Mathews reported. We believe the Fairfield County schools should stay together, he added. Other factors such as travel times, gate receipts and rivalries are as important as enrollment, Mathews said. He believes schools should be able to compete in the division they prefer.

League members will be voting on the proposal in November. In the meantime, Mathews said they are trying to convince other schools that there are some other options rather than just enrollment in forming the new divisions. Whatever alignment is approved this year won’t go into effect until the 2013-14 school year.

The board’s next regular meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 10 in the high school library.

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