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Belpre City Schools discusses consolidation proposals

Tim Hamilton, Educational Consultant with Fanning Howey, speaks Tuesday at a community meeting held by the Belpre City Schools Board of Education to discuss ideas for a new single campus for all Belpre students. (Photo by Wayne Towner)

BELPRE — Belpre City Schools held the third in a series of community meetings Tuesday evening to discuss proposals for consolidating all of the city’s schools into one facility in the future.

Tuesday’s meeting, which drew about 75 people in attendance, was held at Belpre Junior/High School following two September meetings at Belpre Elementary School.

Following a tour of the high school, the meeting was conducted by Fanning Howey, the firm hired by the Belpre City Schools Board of Education to gather community information and input and prepare options for possible construction.

Tim Hamilton, Educational Consultant for the firm, said the overall plan calls for the construction of a fully Pre-K through 12th grade facility in Belpre. The current options being considered would have it built on either the elementary site or the junior/high school site, with various changes made depending on space available and price.

The overall cost at this time is forecast to be about $50-$51 million for basic new construction and the demolition of the old schools and board office. The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) will provide 56 percent of the amount, or about $25 million, while the rest would have to be raised by the district.

The Belpre district would also have to provide money for LFIs, or locally funded initiatives, which are not covered by the OFCC funding. As one example, the OFCC funding will cover a gymnasium of a certain size based on several factors, but if the district wants a larger gym or more seating, it will have to fund the additions itself.

The current plan would call for the construction to be done in two segments, one PreK through fifth grades and the other sixth through 12th grades.

Fanning Howey had three options prepared for review and discussion at Tuesday’s meeting. The first option was split in two, with construction of the PreK-5 building and a new stadium on the current elementary site for $33 million or construction of the PreK-5 building and new baseball/softball fields for $30 million. Under those options, the current stadium or ballfields would remain in use and the 6-12 building would be the second segment built.

Another option would be to build the Prek-5 building on the elementary site with no fields at a cost of $28 million.

The third option discussed Tuesday involved beginning the project with the 6-12 building on the current junior/high site at a cost of $37.6 million.

Those attending Tuesday’s meeting were split into three groups and given a chance to review the three main options with Fanning Howey representatives in a little more detail and to ask questions. They were asked to submit comments in writing about ideas, concerns and additional questions they might have for the firm to incorporate in future planning.

The next community meeting will be 6:30 p.m. Oct. 26 at Belpre Junior/High School. That meeting will focus on a review of the input received from Tuesday’s meeting, discussion of LFI options and priorities and potential costs and millage for the district.

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