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New Springfield school building ready for students

12/19/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

Students in seventh through 12th grades expected to move into building Jan. 7

Students in seventh through 12th grades in the Springfield Local School District are set to move into a new school building Jan. 7 after a four-month delay in construction.

“Construction is coming to a close rapidly,” said Superintendent Bill Stauffer at the Dec. 17 Springfield Local Schools Board of Education meeting. “It is a gorgeous building.”

The move to the new $42 million building was delayed from the original September 2013 move-in date after cracks and floor vibrations were found in portions of the second floor in the spring. District officials have paid about $1.5 million to fix the problem, and the matter is in litigation.

Some parts of the building are already in use, including the auditorium, where holiday performances are being staged, according to district officials. Teachers will move in Jan. 6, and students will begin school the following day. The rest of the district school children return to school Jan. 6.

Stauffer reported the final abatement work on the old high school is scheduled for the coming month, and the building’s demolition will take place in mid-February. He added he could not have done his job and handled all the construction-related work without the dedicated efforts of his staff.

“I have a great administrative team, and they helped keep the ship afloat,” he said.

In related news, district officials announced changes to parking and busing due to the opening of the new building.

Parking spaces have been reduced to 233 spots until site work is complete, which won’t take place until the spring, according to Business Manager Dan Laskos. He noted another 200 spots will be added next year when the site work is complete.

High School Principal Cynthia Frola said student parking passes will be reduced by about 45 percent starting in January, and preference will be given to students who travel to the Portage Lakes Career Center (PLCC) in Green, a part-time job as part of a high school education program or those who take part in sports after school. She also advised students to carpool.

Laskos asked parents driving students in seventh through 12th grades to school not to drop them off until after 7:10 a.m. and not to pick them up until after 2:45 p.m. in order to allow buses to clear the area.

He added district officials will use a shuttle bus to take students not using the bus to the Tri-County Plaza for pick up to reduce congestion.

Parents are being notified in letters sent home with their children about bus route changes, according to Laskos. The changes also will be posted on the district’s website at www.springfieldspartans.org.

District officials also discussed the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) required by the state auditor. Treasurer Chris Adams reported school districts are required to use this method to convert the district’s books to make it more convenient for state auditors to do their job, and it costs the district $9,000 annually.

Adams said about 50 to 75 school districts out of the more than 600 in the state choose not to do this and instead pay a fine of $750, which is cheaper, but it also results in audit notices, meaning the district does not get a “clean” audit.

District officials are considering the fine option, and they are checking to make sure the move does not affect grant applications. Stauffer noted he has concerns with such a move because it sets a bad example for students and staff, who must follow rules and laws even when they don’t agree with them.

In other business, district officials thanked board member Neal Hess for his service on the board. Hess did not seek re-election this past November. Glenn Wieland, who has served on the board in the past, won the seat.

“It’s been an honor to serve the district and the citizens in this community,” said Hess.

Also at the meeting, the board approved:

  • a memorandum of understanding with the PLCC in order to comply with new requirements regarding appointments to the PLCC Board of Education;
  • the retirement resignation of teacher Craig Cochran, effective Jan. 1, and the hiring of Kelli Williams as a two-hour classified employee, Cassey Boss and Deborah Bailey as classified substitutes, and Tammy Sumego as a classified bus monitor, all pending proper licensure;
  • an agreement with Springfield Township Board of Trustees and Lakemore Village for a planned bike and hike trail that will connect the high school with Waterworks Park in Lakemore and Springfield Lakefront Park;
  • amended appropriations for 2013-14 in order to purchase maintenance equipment for the new building;
  • joining the Ohio School Boards Association Legal Assistance Fund at a cost of $250 annually; and
  • the election of board member Bobby Dinkins as president pro tem until the organizational meeting, which is scheduled for Jan. 7 at 6 p.m. in the community room at the new Springfield High School on Canton Road, to be followed by the regular meeting.
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