Warren BOE hears update on school groundbreaking ceremony

VINCENT — With groundbreaking for the new elementary school a week away, the Warren Local Schools board of education was given an update Monday night on the public event.

The first new school building about two decades in Washington County, the school is the start of a years-long building project undertaken by Warren after voters approved a bond issue nearly two years ago. It will be built on a site adjacent to the middle school, up the hill from Ohio 339 between Barlow and Vincent. The district expects a big, enthusiastic crowd.

“We’ve sent out mass emails. At least three legislators have confirmed they’ll be there – both representatives (State Reps. Jay Edwards and Don Jones) and our state senator (State Sen. Frank Hoagland),” superintendent Kyle Newton said. “We’re all set up and ready to go.”

Newton said a pavilion will be set up for dignitaries, along with seating for about 200 people “and plenty of room to stand.”

Among those seated in the pavilion will be 14 students who participated in the visioning process as the buildings were being designed, he said.

The event, which is open to everyone, will start at 4:30 p.m. April 22, regardless of weather.

“If it’s pouring we’ll move it into the middle school gym,” Newton said.

The elementary school is the first building in a near-complete remake of the Warren campus. Also set in the $63 million project are a new high school building and an expansion and renovation of the middle school and an adjacent building. Many of the elementary school contractors, Newton said, are local.

The board also approved a change to the project budget – the third – for $2,466,800. Treasurer Melcie Wells explained that projected interest from the building contingency reserve fund – estimated to be $862,500 – has to be applied to the increase. After that amount is deducted from the amendment total, the state portion will be about $1,155,096 and the local portion $449,204. Previous amendments added $777,378 to include storm sheltering, and reduced it by $997,194 because of a design change. The most recent change came because of the effect of market changes on the cost of labor and materials, Wells said in a statement on Monday night’s agenda.

Newton told the board the high school project currently is out to bid and the results should be in and ready for analysis early in May.

The board also approved the district’s first student drug testing policy, which goes into effect in the fall.

“This is really well done, it’s everything we talked about years ago, and updated,” Newton said.

The 11-page policy provides for random drug testing of any students in grades 7-12 who drive to school and hold a campus parking permit, who participate in athletics, who participate in non-athletic extracurricular activitie, or who voluntarily elect to opt in to the program. It sets out frequency at which students may be tested, the type of test used, who can administer it and analyze the samples, reporting and confidentiality, and the consequences of positive tests.

The policy expressly states that no student can be expelled for a positive drug test or subjected to academic penalties as a result, and that the results will not be disclosed to criminal or juvenile authorities unless legally compelled by a subpeona or other judicial instrument. The results will not be documented in students’ academic records, and any record of the tests will be destroyed on June 30 of the year in which the student graduates.

In other matters, the board approved a memorandum of understanding with the Washington County Sheriff to provide a full-time school resource officer starting in August.

Newton told the board he expects to have a resolution for review next month regarding the carrying of firearms by school staff.

“There’s no need to pass a policy, because it’s already covered in policy. My goal in May is to bring a resolution that will allow that, to formalize pieces of a plan. There’s a list of things we can talk about, like the requirements for staff,” he said. “We have had discussions about this with law enforcement.”

The next monthly board meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. May 20 at the administration offices on Sweetapple Drive.