TIPP CITY — Options for updating school district facilities were presented to the Tipp City School Board for discussion at their Monday work session.
Much of the initial discussion around the facilities committee update revolved around options to renovate buildings such as Broadway and LT Ball verses building new schools. According to Superintendent Mark Stefanik, the facilities committee favored an option that included new buildings over renovations. As far as cost was concerned, the cost for new buildings came out close to the cost of renovations. Stefanik added that Tipp City Education Association President Heather Yunker said renovations would be a harder sell, and new buildings would be both preferable and get more support.
Stefanik also added that the district would be more likely to get funding from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) for new builds than they would for renovations.
School board member Anne Zakkour brought up that the structural analysis report that the board had approved and paid for had concluded that the most favorable option for the school district would be to move toward building renovations, and that she felt spending money on the report and then disregarding it when picking options for facility updates was irresponsible. Treasurer Melanie Fox added that the inspection cost roughly $10,000; the approval of the inspection authorized spending not to exceed $13,000.
“It’s just not good business, I’m sorry. We don’t take ten thousand dollars of the taxpayer’s money, articulate the reason why you want it, and then get the report back that is actually favorable, and just put it in a pile and ignore it like it never occurred,” Zakkour said.
Stefanik said that the discussion within the group was that if the cost were to be the same, and the only project the district would be eligible to get state funding back on would be new projects, that outweighed the renovation option. Zakkour said that the next layer would be to go to the public and get feedback on what taxpayers were interested in.
“I think that there needs to be another level and layer of discussion with the public’s involvement and that we should not be seeing this on the agenda to be voting on until we’ve went through a couple more steps,” Zakkour said.
Board president Simon Patry emphasized that the facilities committee has not chosen any plan, but were bringing a suggested plan to the board for the purpose of discussion and to make a recommendation. With the apples to apples comparison, Patry echoed that the cost of renovating Broadway to have the same facilities and environment that they would have with a new build was nearly the same.
“It was suggested to the committee by Mr. Richly that OFCC funds would be unlikely; you could certainly apply, but it wouldn’t be likely to be approved (for renovations). Based on all of those things, and knowing that, in the past, things that have been voiced by the community to the school district is that they want to have some state funding if possible, they want to have a Broadway site if possible,” Patry said.
Board member Theresa Dunaway, whose motion to remove agenda items regarding architect selection, facility option approval and technology support contracts had been approved earlier in the meeting, said that the reason she had motioned for that was due to lack of information and she felt that was part of the issue with the facilities discussion.
“The stuff that Simon said tonight, that’s new information to me. Maybe, when you have your meetings, email to the board (…) just kind of keep us in the loop, so that when we come into a meeting and it’s June, and we see that we’re approving a building plan, we just feel kind of caught flat-footed because we don’t have all of the information,” Dunaway said. “When there’s no communication, there’s no trust. There’s no communication, no trust, now we have five hour board meetings every single time.”
Patry said that much of the information that the facilities committee had based their recommendation off of had been provided in a presentation given by Mike Richly, and that they would strive to provide more detailed information in the future.