By Janie Southard
Fort Recovery High School is one of 20 Ohio schools named this week to receive state funding to help rebuild or renovate old buildings through the state's Rebuilding Ohio Schools program.
Gov. Bob Taft's office issued the announcement putting Fort Recovery in line for the funding to be administered by the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC), the $24 billion program addressing the facility needs of every Ohio school district, Taft's news release states.
"We won't know how much we'll receive or if we'll get a new high school or the renovation of this one until OSFC representatives meet with us on April 11," Fort Recovery schools Treasurer Dennis Ontrop said Thursday.
This will be the second time Fort Recovery gets state money to help renovate its facilities. Nearly $18 million in state money and local tax dollars was spent in the late 1990s on building a new elementary/middle school and renovating a portion of the high school.
The new elementary/middle school costs $15.1 million, with the community paying for 21 percent ($3.17 million) through taxes and OSFC covering the rest of the bill ($11.93 million). That OSFC pilot project is the commission's showcase school. Another $2.8 million was spent for renovations to the high school, which included nearly $2 million in OSFC funding, $463,000 from an emergency repair grant and $273,000 in local taxes. The local contribution was aided by $170,000 from the 1995 permanent improvement levy, which expires at the end of this calendar year.
The high school building at that time underwent additions and renovations including asbestos removal, a new gym and commons area, an elevator, new signage throughout the school to include Braille and many other improvements.
The school now needs a sprinkler system, new roof and repairs to the air conditioning/heating system. Those areas received special notice from OSFC engineers and architects who recently performed an on-site evaluation, Ontrop said.
"Our worst area is the old gym built in the 1930s and now used as a weight room," he added.
There are a few different ways to address how the community will pay for its portion of the projected renovation/new school undertaking; however, Ontrop reiterated it's just too early to make a guess.
"Of course we can't give any dollar amounts for this new project until after we meet with the OSFC in April," Ontrop said. Thus it is not known now how or if the district taxpayers will be affected.
A proposed facility plan will be developed jointly by OSFC and the local district. Taft said the local school board will need to approve those plans in June. Following that, OSFC will formally consider the facility plans and budgets at its July 28th meeting. The state controlling board then will be asked for approval for the state funds in August.