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Published: 4/16/2010

Rossford panel urges new schools for $67M

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Despite protests from two members who want to reconsider renovation, the Rossford school district's facilities committee decided last night to recommend building four schools at a cost of $67 million.

Under the plan, which will be considered next by the Rossford Board of Education's finance committee, a preschool-through-fifth-grade building would be in downtown Rossford. A second elementary school, plus a middle school and a high school, would be built on land occupied by Glenwood Elementary and athletic fields.

Richard Goeke, a former school board member, walked out of the meeting before the vote was taken, while architect Robert Densic refused to cast a ballot and resigned from the facilities committee. Both men are Rossford Exempted Village Schools residents who have been on the facilities committee, composed of 19 community members and school employees, since its inception a couple years ago.

And both men said they did not want their names associated with the facilities committee decision since new numbers about building costs and other details were introduced last night. The district now estimates it will cost $67 million to build four schools, up from $54.8 million, although the latest projection does include demolition and other costs.

Mr. Goeke said the facilities committee needs to reconsider renovating at least the high school even though members previously voted to replace all schools. New numbers, especially estimates that the district will have a deficit in the 2013-14 school year and need to borrow against its cash reserves, should be taken into account, he said.

"We can't go ahead with any decision with bad numbers," Mr. Goeke said before leaving the meeting attended by more than 30 residents.

Said Mr. Densic of the four-building decision: "This is based on wants, not needs."

Yet Lou Soltis, another district resident and committee member who owns an engineering firm, said much effort has been put into the recommendation. The issue needs to go before voters, he said.

"They will decide in the end," Mr. Soltis said. "We're trying to narrow it down."

District leaders want to put a bond levy issue on the November ballot.

School board member Ken Sutter, who also is a facilities committee member, said the hope is to get 0 percent bonds and keep costs for the average homeowner to $120 to $180 a year.

Mr. Densic, who has assessed and designed schools, said after the meeting that 0 percent bonds are available for renovation.

He said he believes the three elementaries should be replaced and consolidated while the high school and junior high could be renovated, although more evaluations need to be done.

The facilities committee will decide at its next meeting whether to recommend selling, demolishing, or reusing the district's existing buildings. That meeting is at 6 p.m. April 28 in Bulldog Center.

Contact Julie M. McKinnon at:

jmckinnon@theblade.com

or 419-724-6087.



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