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Published: Wednesday, 4/30/2008

$21M estimate Pettisville looking to replace its 1929 school

BY ANGIE SCHMITT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

PETTISVILLE - The local school district is making arrangements to approach voters with a bond issue that would fund the construction of a new pre-kindergarten-through-12 building, according to Pettisville Superintendent Stephen Switzer.

District officials have been negotiating with the Ohio School Facilities Commission on issues of enrollment and square footage. The construction project is expected to cost about $21 million. District officials are hoping for an 82 percent match from the state. The agreement would leave local taxpayers responsible for at least $3.8 million.

Mr. Switzer said he expects the state funding to be finalized this month.

The district hopes to place a combined income tax-bond issue before voters in the November election. Exact rates won't be determined until July, when elections deadlines approach, Mr. Switzer said.

Meanwhile, the district has hired Buehrer Group Architecture of Maumee to draw up preliminary plans for the new building.

The district is planning for a 95,000-square-foot building with a combined cafeteria-auditorium that would seat between 500 and 600. The building would have security features that would limit access to the school and include a 5,500-square-foot agriculture lab, Mr. Switzer said. The district is also looking at geothermal heating and wind power.

Officials have not decided if the school would remain at its current 10-acre site, Mr. Switzer said.

The district's building was constructed in 1929. While the building is "basically in good shape," Mr. Switzer said, the signs of wear are evident.

"It's basically very old. The piping and the plumbing, things like that, are a challenge. You get to the point where you're nursing it along."

Mr. Switzer said the district might not receive such a favorable rate from the state if it puts off the project, even for a year.

"You get to the point where you get an offer you can't refuse," Mr. Switzer said. "Our number's up, I guess is the best way to say it."

Rick Savors, a spokesman for the Ohio School Facilities Commission, said the favorable state matching rate could disappear if voters turn down a bond issue in November.

"The longer you wait, the greater the uncertainty will be as to what your local share will be," Mr. Savors said. "For Pettisville to get 82 percent, obviously would be advantageous for them."


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