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Published: Wednesday, 7/28/2004

Otsego Local Schools: Final designs being drawn for overhaul

BY RACHEL ZINN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Otsego Local Schools district is in the final weeks of working out basic designs for a major overhaul of its facilities, and determining where to put the agricultural sciences department appears to be the last hurdle before plans go to the Ohio School Facilities Commission.

The district, in portions of Wood, Lucas, and Henry counties, hopes to start constructing in spring 2005 a 92,000-square-foot building connected to the existing high school. The new building will house high school classes and music and lunch rooms for middle school students, while the existing high school, which is 48,250 square feet, will house middle school students and a few high school classes.

At a school board meeting last week, Garmann/Miller Architects of Minster, Ohio, displayed plans that called for the agricultural sciences department to share facilities with the industrial technology classes in the existing high school. The two departments would share the same space the industrial technology classes now use, about 4,765 square feet.

About 50 alumni and supporters of the agricultural sciences program attended the meet-

ing, concerned that the department was not given enough space.

"Last year the industrial tech department facilities were filled to the max. They want to lump in more students and add more equipment to that area," said Dale Limes, president of the Otsego FFA Alumni. The FFA group includes all alumni of the agricultural sciences program.

The agricultural sciences department is currently in a separate 3,200-square-foot building on the high school campus that will be torn down when construction begins.

Architect Brad Garmann is working to revise the plans for relocating the department after meeting with administrators, teachers, and FFA alumni.

"We got a couple suggestions that we're going to study to see if they're feasible," Mr. Garmann said.

The school district is somewhat constrained in its design options because it must follow Ohio School Facilities Commission guidelines to qualify for state money to assist with redoing its facilities.

The district is paying for the first phase of facility upgrades with revenue from an $18.2 million bond issue passed in March, 2004. State funds will pay for future improvements, including two new elementary schools.

After the basic plans for the first phase of construction are submitted to the Ohio School Facilities Commission, the architect will continue working with administrators and the public to refine the plans before construction begins in the spring.

Superintendent Joe Long said the district has listened to opinions of community members throughout the design process and tried to accommodate different viewpoints.

"It's a process of consensus. Not everybody is getting what they want, but we're getting our entire middle school moved out of a 1916 building to a 1963 building," he said. "Overall, this is a giant step forward for the district."



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