City Education Athens Board of Education approves plans for five renovation projects By Connor Perrett Posted on April 3, 2018 6 min read 0 0 624 East Elementary School. File photo by Connor Perrett The total cost is estimated to be around $90 million. The district will pay about $60 million, with the remaining $30 million to be paid for by the Ohio Facilities Construction Commision. The Athens Board of Education approved a master plan at their most recent meeting, but the process of getting the plan to ballot has just begun. Board members unanimously voted to move forward with the plan that will initiate renovations for two new pre-kindergarten through third grade school buildings. The renovations will be applied to the currently existing East Elementary and Morrison Gordon Elementary schools. The grades four through six building at the Plains Elementary School will undergo a complete renovation and a significant addition. The current Athens Middle School building, which serves the seventh and eighth grades, will also undergo renovations. Athens High School will be completely demolished and rebuilt, according to the plan. The superintendent of the Athens City School District sent an email last Thursday to parents after the board passed the plan. In the email, Superintendent Thomas Gibbs told parents that while the plan had been approved by the board, they still have not yet decided what will be on the November ballot. Once the board has made a final decision on the plan and knows the outcome of the Bond Levy, more community members will be involved in the process. “Faculty, staff and members of the community will definitely be included in the planning for the construction of any new or renovated facilities, as well as the discussions related to subsequent changes in programming,” Gibbs said. The total cost is estimated to be around $90 million. The district will pay about $60 million, with the remaining $30 million to be paid for by the Ohio Facilities Construction Commision. The board had until April 1 to make a finalized plan in order to secure funding from the OFCC. “We haven’t made significant investment in our facilities since 2000, so frankly, everything needed an update,” Gibbs said at last Thursday’s meeting. Board members argued back and forth over whether the plan should be completed in phases or all at once. Ultimately, they settled for the latter. If the board decided to segment the project into two phases, the board would need to go to voters twice, delaying the time it would take to complete the project. “Multiple Board Members expressed the desire to keep the total cost of the project where the tax millage for the bond issue would be approximately 6 mils and the estimated cost per $100,000 in valuation would be approximately $200,” Gibbs said in an email. Gibbs provided parents with a list of future discussions and actions that he suspects the board will take in the coming meetings. He says the board is expected to discuss both necessary and optional locally funded initiatives to include in the project. He expects the board to reach final decisions regarding what LFIs to include by May. During the summer, he expects the board will begin the process to place a bond issue on November’s ballot. Gibbs said that parents should not expect any major changes in the immediate future. “As the administration, faculty and staff begin the process of planning for the 18-19 School Year, please be aware that there will be no significant reconfiguration of the schools for the coming year,” Gibbs said.