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Plenty of work left to do at high school

Construction of the new middle school is well underway. Workers are expected to start placing steel roof trusses this week for the gym in the center of the photo. The photo is looking west toward the elementary school Beacon aerial photo by Charles Prince.

Construction of the new middle school is well underway. Workers are expected to start placing steel roof trusses this week for the gym in the center of the photo. The photo is looking west toward the elementary school Beacon aerial photo by Charles Prince.

BALTIMORE – “We’re a long way from done,” architect Joe Schappa told Liberty Union Thurston School Board members Monday night.

High school students returned as scheduled last week, but some of the new classroom furniture for the high school didn’t show up on time. Most teachers are still missing their new desks and the library furniture hasn’t arrived.

Schappa said most of the outside work is done except for paving the rear parking lot. Thanks to regular watering the new sod didn’t die.

Several major projects are now scheduled for the week long fair week vacation next month. That’s when the cafeteria and main entrance flooring will be done. The final cafeteria line will be installed at the same time.

Schappa said installing new flooring on the first floor is still an issue. The moisture level is now OK, but the pH of the concrete slab is still a bit high. the slab might have to be washed with a vinegar solution to reduce the pH.

Technology is also behind schedule. Schappa says they will start doing a technology punch list with the technology engineer for after school work.

He said contractors are anxious to move over to the middle school auditorium which is the only part of the current middle school that will be retained once the new school is finished. Workers can’t get started there until lead testing is completed which will be the basis for specific lead exposure limits for each task.

Steel arrived for the new middle school Monday, Schappa reported. He expects workers to begin setting the steel roof trusses for the gym this week. Steel erection is about a week ahead of schedule.

All the classroom wings, except the southeast one, now have concrete floor slabs in place. Concrete for the entranceway and the north side parking lot should be poured soon. “We’ll get a good cure on it over the winter,” Schappa said.

Underground plumbing is in the place and electrical boxes are in, but it’s too early to pull wire, he added. A pre-install meeting is scheduled for this week for the wellfield. The school will be heated and cooled by a geothermal system based on a some 150 wells. The wells will be drilled on 20 foot centers in a wellfield on the east side of the new school. Each will be drilled 315 feet deep with the wellheads connected to the network four feet below the surface. The system uses the relative constant ground temperature for heating and cooling. Schappa expects it will take 60 days to drill all the wells.

Schappa was asked why there is standing water in the detention pond behind the elementary school. That pond serves part of the new middle school site and Ohio EPA regulations require that sediment runoff from the construction site be settled out in the pond before the water is released to a stream.

In other business Monday night, principals introduced the three new teachers to board members. They are: Natalie Brate, 6th grade science and health; Laura Hornbeck, vocational agriculture; and Krystal Washburn, first grade. Board members also approved a one-year contract with Hornbeck who was a nearly last minute replacement after Tim Turner was named assistant high school principal replacing Chet Coleman who resigned for a principal’s position in Newark. Hornbeck has a Master of Science degree in agriculture and extension education from West Virginia University. Board members also approved a supplemental contract with Daniel Shirey as a varsity assistant football coach.

After a short executive or closed session, board members, with John Hutton not participating and later abstaining, approved a one-year contract with the nonteaching unionized employees. Like the teachers’ contract, base wages will not be increased, but members will still get step increases if they haven’t been exhausted. Health care benefits are unchanged with full-time employees paying 10 percent of the cost of a single plan and 20 percent of the cost of a family plan. Again like teachers, employees will have a premium holiday in December with the district picking up the full cost of health care benefits.

Board members also approved refunding the bonds originally issued in 2002 for the district’s share of the cost to renovate the high school and build a new middle school. The refunding, which is based on an improvement in Ohio’s credit rating from A-1 to AA-1, will save taxpayers $225,000 to $250,000 over the bonds’ remaining eight year life. “We’re a better credit risk,” district treasurer David Butler said.

The district is part of Ohio’s Race to the Top proposal for federal funding which was approved in the second round. A Race to the Top committee has already been formed consisting of an equal number of teachers and administrators. Art Brate, as board president, has one of the administrator slots. “We have a 60 day window to create our plan,” Superintendent Paul Mathews said. “It is a look at the future. There is a great advantage in being on the ground floor.”

It’s a four-year grant and a four-year plan, Mathews said. Liberty Union’s plan is due Nov. 22. “There is quite a bit of work to be done,” Brate added. A report from the committee will be a monthly informational item for board members.

A new board policy addressing food allergies was released for review. It will be on the board’s agenda for consideration at the October 11 meeting. In part it reads, “Students with dietary needs that qualify as disabilities under State and Federal law are provided reasonable accommoda- tion.” Special dietary needs must be certified in writing from the student’s physician. When that is done, the district will provide substitute meals.

The board’s next regular meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Monday, October 11, 2010 in the high school library.

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