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Community News

District officials respond to new building concerns

3/21/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

LAKEMORE — Springfield Local School District officials discussed several issues related to the construction of the $42 million school for students in seventh through 12th grades at the March 19 Board of Education meeting.

Superintendent William Stauffer stated “rumors” that the building’s upper floors are “sinking” are “absolutely untrue.”

“The upper floors do have excessive bounce or a vibration that can be felt when you walk on them,” he said. “This is not acceptable and engineers are studying this. This is not a safety issue; it is a comfort issue.”

Stauffer stressed the floors as they stand are not capable of causing damage, but he called the matter “disruptive to learning.” He also said the cost to correct the problem would be borne by “those responsible” and not by the district.

“Until we know what the fix is, we do not know if it will cause a delay in opening the building this fall,” said Stauffer. “If the building does not open on time, we will not be closing Spring Hill Junior High this fall.”

Spring Hill Junior High houses students in seventh and eighth grades, and they were slated to move into the new building, along with high school students.

“We are working around the clock to fix this problem,” said Stauffer. “This is a magnificent facility, but we would rather get the problem fixed right before opening it.”

Stauffer added that a similar problem in the field house resulted in tearing out the concrete floor and installing a new one, without cost to the district.

Jeff Fullerman, senior project manager of Regency Construction Services Inc., serving as the construction manager for the project, provided other construction updates during the board meeting.

Fullerman said the last two bids involving demolition of the high school were to be opened March 21. He also said district officials can now begin to consider doing five alternate projects connected to the construction of the new school, including: adding a ticket booth to the visitor and home sides of the stadium; landscaping instead of sod in some areas; an amphitheater backdrop; softball field amenities; and outdoor furniture in the student dining plaza.

Fullerman said construction costs are running a little over estimates and suggested district officials may have to pick among the alternates planned. Some of the increased costs were due to finding hazardous materials and underground storage tanks in some areas.

District officials also responded to questions raised by residents about plans to use technology to display photos of past graduates instead of hanging their photos in hallways.

Alumni Laura Cochran, a Lakemore Village Council member, said she was “disappointed” to hear past graduates’ pictures would not be rehung in the new school.

Her husband, Mike Cochran, threatened to vote “no” on future levies if district officials fail to rehang graduates’ pictures.

“It kills my soul to know those pictures will be stored away,” said Elva Pounders, a graduate of the Class of 1958. “You can’t take it away just because they are old. As long as the pictures are up, Springfield lives.”

Retired custodian Beverly Snyder, who said she had a long line of family that attended Springfield Local Schools, stated that being able to look at graduates’ photos on a wall is a “marvelous tradition” that should be kept, and she offered to establish a group to raise funds to pay for retouching and reframing the old photos.

“We understand what you are saying,” said board member Mary Lou Dodson, who added she has family, including her mother to grandchildren, who went to school in Springfield. “But, if the pictures were to be hung, they would be placed in hallways closed off to the public during school events. We live in different times today. I like tradition, too, but I can say I am very comfortable with archiving the pictures.”

She added the public could access photos from a computer and would not even have to come to the school to see them, which would be an advantage for those who no longer live in the area.

Board member Bobby Dinkins responded that the decision to use technology to display graduates’ photos was not based only on costs.

“We have an opportunity to get history right,” he said. “We can add pictures that are missing. We can also use technology to enhance history.”

Board member Neal Hess stressed the use of technology to display the photos does not mean the graduates are being forgotten.

“History does not change, but the way it is told does and must change to stay relevant to students today,” he said. “We are creating a 21st-century school.”

Board member Cindy Collins said the use of technology is a means to preserve and remember history, and to protect the aging photos from vandals.

Dave Hofer was the only board member who said he preferred to see the old photos rehung in the new school.

“We need to give some serious consideration to alumni and let them develop a plan [to refurbish the pictures],” he said.

Board members agreed to give the matter some more thought.

In other business, district Treasurer Chris Adams announced he is tracking a $7.5 million carryover for the year. He added he is seeing a 10 percent increase on the cost of health benefits this year over last year, which he said was due to an increase in “catastrophic events” by employees.

Business Manager Dan Laskos also reported the food services program has $52,000 extra to date over last year, mostly thanks to the use of technology. In the past, the program ran $100,000 to $150,000 in the red, he added.

“This budget is due to a great team of administrators,” said Stauffer. “That is why we have been able to turn things around from being on Fiscal Emergency.”

Also at the meeting, the board voted 4-1 on a resolution to oppose provisions in House Bill 59 that transfers public dollars to support private education, with Hofer abstaining because he said he had not had an opportunity to read the bill.

District officials agreed that private schools should not be subsidized at the expense of public schools.

“We have to do more with less and charter schools have to do less with more,” said Stauffer.

The next board meeting is scheduled for April 16 at Young Elementary School, 3258 Nidover Ave.

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