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Education

Wauseon: Exempted Village Schools panel considers district building plan

WAUSEON - A core committee of three dozen people, including community members, educators, business owners, and elected officials, has been formed to help create a master plan for Wauseon Exempted Village Schools.

The group is working toward making a recommendation to the board of education by May on a long-term master plan for the district's buildings.

Committee members are to tour existing facilities Jan. 24, said Superintendent Marc Robinson. A committee meeting is set for Feb. 7, and the first communitywide meeting will be Feb. 28 or March 1.

Information about the condition of existing facilities will be presented to the committee members as well as to the public as part of the planning process. In addition, information will be provided about the array of programs available from the Ohio School Facilities Commission, Mr. Robinson said.

Wauseon ranks 209th on a list to receive Ohio School Facilities Commission money. Spokesman Rick Savors said the commission doesn't make predictions on when school districts would be eligible for funds.

Under the program, Wauseon could qualify to receive state funds to cover 65 percent of the cost for a building and renovation project. The district would pick up the balance.

To qualify, Wauseon needs to have a master plan in place that has been approved by the district and the Ohio School Facilities Commission.

The board recently hired Fanning/Howey Associates Inc. of Celina, Ohio, to conduct an assessment of the facilities. The assessment will be used by the core committee as it examines questions such as whether the district should renovate or build, Mr. Robinson said.

Wauseon school officials last week were finalizing the list of core committee members. The committee includes Wauseon Mayor Jerry Dehnbostel; Sandra Barber, Fulton County recorder; board of education members Larry Fruth and Sandra Griggs, and a cross-section of the Wauseon district, including residents with ties to farming; banking; church programming; manufacturing, and real estate.

Larry Neuenschwander, a real estate agent in Wauseon, said he is happy to serve on the committee and that it is important for the community to plan ahead for possible building projects.

"Schools are one of the main things people want to look at when they are considering moving into a community," Mr. Neuenschwander said.

Two years ago, the state facilities commission estimated that it would cost $26 million to renovate Wauseon's four buildings to its standards and build additions to the high school and Burr Road Middle School.

The state facilities commission calls for new construction rather than renovation if renovating would run 66 percent (or more) of the cost for a replacement building. State estimates two years ago to renovate the Elm Street building were 61 percent of the price to build a replacement. Estimates to renovate the Burr Road building were 62 percent of the cost for a new school.

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