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Published: Wednesday, 10/5/2005

Pike-Delta-York: Process begins for building improvements

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Ohio School Facilities Commission is reaching out to the Pike-Delta-York Local School District to start the process rolling toward planned building improvements, including construction of an elementary school.

PDY is one of about 50 districts across the state where the OSFC is holding planning outreach sessions.

"We want to get them involved now in the planning process," said Rick Savors, spokesman for the commission.

The districts, if they maintain their current places on the OSFC eligibility list, can expect state funding for building projects in two to three years, he said.

"This is very, very preliminary work," Mr. Savors said, adding that the outreach meetings are being held "mostly to get people thinking about what needs to be done," such as coming up with updated information on projected enrollment figures, how to configure the new buildings, and how to fund the local share.

Pike-Delta-York's master plan, approved in anticipation of the district's receiving state funds as part of the Ohio School Facilities Commission program, includes proposed security upgrades at the middle school at an estimated cost of $182,000 as well as $6.6 million in renovations at the high school, including replacing the heating system. Estimated cost for the new elementary school is $14.3 million.

The OSFC was created in 1997 to provide funding, management oversight, and technical assistance to Ohio school districts for the construction and renovation of facilities.

Robin Rayfield, Pike-Delta-York superintendent, said it's possible that the district could receive OSFC funding next March but said that timetable is unlikely. Funding in the following year is "quite likely," he said, and "as we get funded, we definitely will be seeking voter approval for our share."

Under the plan, the state would pick up 71 percent of the costs and the local share would be 29 percent. The district received credit toward its local share when renovations were done at the high school, Mr. Rayfield said.

After voters approve the local share, design work would be done, and then "they would dig a hole and build the building," the superintendent said.

It could be three to five years before a new school is built, depending on the availability of state funds and the time it takes to pass a local bond issue, he said.

In the meantime, an OSFC inspector will come into the district and determine whether PDY's plan still meets the commission's requirements. The review might change the scope of the project somewhat, but Mr. Rayfield said he doesn't anticipate significant changes. "It will still probably be a K-5 building. We already own the property. It would go on the middle-school site."

Locating the building there would involve extending Panther Pride Drive. The new building would be located to the south of the drive in an open area, Mr. Rayfield said.

The new school would replace the existing elementary school on Fernwood Street and the York building on Fulton County Road 10 in York Township.

PDY officials would decide the fate of the two buildings, but Mr. Rayfield said he doesn't think that the York building would be demolished.

"I do not think it would be closed, torn down, and hauled away in a dump truck. I do not think that's what anyone envisions," he said.

PDY couldn't use the building as a school, but the building could be converted into other uses, such as office space.

Mr. Rayfield anticipates significant discussions about the future of the Fernwood building, portions of which date back to 1932. The newer section was built in 1956, he said. Perhaps the village would be interested in the building. "It could be a community center. A lot of things could be done with it," he said.

If districts give the OSFC an indication that they want to proceed, "we'll start working with our regional planning coordinators to recheck assessments of buildings and check on enrollment projections," Mr. Savors said, noting that not all districts immediately jump at the chance to participate. About 20 districts have deferred participation in the last two years because of operational funding issues, he said.



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