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Published: 2/16/2005

Wauseon: Public input sought by facility panel

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

WAUSEON - Community residents are being asked for their input on the future of facilities in the Wauseon Exempted Village School District.

Residents can offer comments during a community meeting at 7 p.m. Feb. 28 in the Wauseon High School auditorium. Wauseon Superintendent Marc Robinson said that he would like to see more than 150 people attend the session, the first community meeting called by a 35-member facility planning committee. The committee is working toward making a recommendation to the board of education by June on a long-term master plan for the district's buildings.

Committee members, who include local residents, educators, business owners, and elected officials, have toured schools to look over the buildings - classrooms, walls, windows, heating and plumbing systems, and other areas - and will present their assessments during the community meeting. The assessments can be used for comparison purposes with standards set in the Ohio School Facilities Commission's programs, said Mr. Robinson.

Wauseon ranks 209th on a list to receive Ohio School Facilities Commission money. 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. Sandy Griggs, school board president who is on the core committee, said it could be about thre years before Wauseon receives money through the OSFC program.

During the community meeting, committee members will lead small-group discussions with residents about Wauseon's facilities, the OSFC programs, and possible options. Information from those small-group sessions then will be presented to the entire audience.

"Our initial effort will be to narrow down options," said Mr. Robinson. "What we hope to do is to come out with some direction from the community." After that, the committee can start to delve into data and zero in on some possibilities, he 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.

"We're looking to get an opinion on what we should do, what plan to follow," said Mrs. Griggs. "If we do not have community support for a project, there is no sense in doing it. We don't have to participate in the OSFC program." If the community doesn't want to participate in the program, then "that would be the recommendation we would take."



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