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Published: Wednesday, 4/30/2008

Wauseon schools poised to start $43.5M renovation, building project


WAUSEON - Wauseon Exempted Village Schools is about to embark on what district officials say may be the "largest single construction project that has ever taken place in the city."

The major phase of the $43.5 million project to renovate Leggett Street Primary School and Wauseon High School and to build a new school for students in grades three through eight is to begin this summer, Superintendent Marc Robinson said.

"Bids for the new 3-8 [building] have been awarded, and dirt should start moving soon," Mr. Robinson said. "Both the high school and Leggett Street [projects] will begin as soon as school is out."

The project is being funded, in part, by $25 million from the Ohio School Facilities Commission. Local voters approved a 6.49-mill combined bond issue to support the project in November, 2006.

A groundbreaking ceremony is planned for June 1 at the new $25.4 million school for grades 3 through 8. The building will be located east of Wauseon High School, Mr. Robinson said.

The 136,000-square-foot building will include two wings, one for grades 3-5 and another for grades 6-8.

The wings will be separated by a combined cafeteria-auditorium, a gymnasium, library, computer lab, and administrative offices.

"What you will have at the end of the day is a building that is specially designed with techonolgy features," said Rick Savors, a spokesman for the Ohio School Facilties Commission. "We call it, education ready."

Officials hope to move into the building in December, 2009, and begin holding classes there the next month, Mr. Robinson said.

The $11 million renovation at the high school will take place largely this summer and during the summers of 2009 and 2010. A small portion of the renovations will take place during the coming school year, the superintendent said.

Renovations will include installing air conditioning throughout the building, replacing 75 percent of the roof, removing asbestos in the 1958 section of the building, replacing toilet and plumbing fixtures, and rebuilding the stone-based track on high school property. A new road will be built to connect the school to the new grades 3-8 building.

The district has begun exterior renovations at Leggett Street Primary School, including the addition of a 140-space parking lot and a new bus pick-up and drop-off area.

This summer, crews will add fire suppression and security systems and bring the building into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

As a result, summer classes at the school will be canceled, and Safety City will be held at Elm Street Elementary School.

Total cost for renovations at the primary school is estimated at $2.3 million.

The district has yet to make a decision about the future of Elm Street Elementary School and Burr Road Middle School. The district consulted the Fulton County commissioners and officials from the city of Wauseon, the Wauseon Public Library, the Wauseon Post Office, and Northwest State Community College seeking potential buyers. None has expressed interest.

If the school chooses, the school facilities commission will contribute 66 percent of the demolition costs for the sites. The district is seeking community input about the decision. To comment on the plans, call 419-335-6616.

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