Greenon leaders want to build one new school for all of district

Greenon Local Schools leaders decided to pursue a one-school building option in its bid to replace aging facilities in the district.

The school’s board of education met in special session Thursday night, the eve to a deadline it had to reach to get money from the Ohio Facility Construction Commission for the project. An informal vote taken by the board showed all board members supported the one-school option.

The plan for the new school building will rely on voters approving a bond issue. School leaders have said they hope to get on the May 2017 ballot.

“We will be pursuing a one-school building plan for this district,” School Board President Dennis Henry said.

School leaders narrowed their choice to two options before the special meeting by holding multiple forums and conducting two surveys in the last three months. The first plan was the one-school option, which will be built most likely on the Indian Valley Intermediate property. It will cost the district about $29 million, if approved by voters.

The option the school bond rejected called for two new school buildings to be built. The first building would have likely been built on the Indian Valley property and would have been for K through 5th or 6th grades, and the second school building built would have been a junior and senior high at the current Greenon High School location.

That option would have cost the district $32 million, if it would have been approved by voters.

School leaders said they came to the conclusion because it was the best one for the district.

“I see educational value with teachers being able to teach different grade levels,” Superintendent Brad Silvus said. “Students having the options to take more classes.”

The school board said repeatedly throughout the process of deciding which plan to pursue that they wanted the voting community to drive the new school project. However, both options received at least some support from the community. School leaders said the opinions made their choice tough, but they were pleased with the attendance and the community involvement.

“The bottom line is we want the community to direct us,” Henry previously said. “There is a lot more than money here, there is a lot of emotion. The decision isn’t always the most fundamental sound decision, there is also emotion … involved. But, I think we got a clear message with the show of hands.”

At the final meeting on Oct. 31, a large amount of hands were raised when asked who supports the one-school option.

But a survey indicated that respondents preferred the two-school option, even if it did cost the district more money to complete. Some at the forum said the reason they would support the two-school option over the one-school option is because of after-school activities.

Officials previously said they would like to leave the athletic fields at the Greenon site even if they build the one school at Indian Valley. Some residents at the forum said they were concerned about student-athletes getting to their practices if the fields were at the Greenon location.

School board members said the school will be committed to transporting athletes and band members to their practices or wherever they need to be.

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