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Land purchase needed for new school

BALTIMORE – Kevin Byers is the new president of the Liberty Union Thurston School Board. Art Brate will serve as vice president this year.

Board meetings will continue to be held at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of each month. The regular meeting location is the high school library.

Junior Jayce Born, daughter of John and Kathy Born, and senior Ryan Jensen, son of Larry and Lori Jensen, were honored as students-of-the-month. First grade teacher Wendy Buskirk was selected by her fellow teachers as teacher-of-the-month.

January is School Board Recognition Month across the state. Superintendent Paul Mathews presented each board member with a certificate of appreciation for their service to the board. More importantly, Mathews gave each board member two pieces of his homemade cherry pie. Liberty Union board members have a total of 61 years service:

• S. Michael Raver – 19 years • Art Brate – 17 years • Joe Farmer – 17 years • John Hutton – 6 years

• Kevin Byers – 2 years

“We are very fortunate,” Mathews said. “We have Board of Education members with good judgment.”

Monday night’s agenda was very short. Geoffrey Burnside was hired as a full-time cleaner, filling the posted vacancy. Mike Bruning was approved as volunteer for high school boys basketball. Bill Moore was approved as a volunteer for high school girls basketball.

Board members agreed to authorize Mathews to negotiate with Faith Lutheran Church for the purchase of an approximately one half acre tract. The property in question notches into the adjoining district property off South Main Street.

District architect Joe Schappa says purchase of the property would significantly reduce the site preparation costs for the new middle school. Last month, Schappa told board members that the current estimate for site preparation exceeds the allowance set by the Ohio School Facility Commission. The district must pay 100 percent of the cost over the allowance. The Commission is paying 60 percent of the cost for the new middle school.

Purchasing the additional property allows the new middle school to move a bit more north which will preserve more of the Land Lab garden area, maximize the potential to share parking with the elementary school, minimize the cost of extending utilities to the site and possibly eliminate the need for a sewage lift station. The preferred site is just to the east of the existing elementary school. Board members will have to approve the property purchase once Mathews strikes an agreement with the church.

A special workshop meeting with department heads is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 17 in the high school library. The board’s next regular meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 9 in the high school library.

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