Process begins for Botkins building

BOTKINS — Botkins Board of Education members officially decided to begin the process of building a new K-12 school during Wednesday’s meeting.
In a unanimous vote, board members decided the district’s best option was to pursue a new 102,000-square foot facility and to pursue the local financing needed from voters in the November election.
Board members made the move official by hiring Fanning-Howey and Associates engineering firm to design its master plan to be submitted for final approval to the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission (OSFC).
“The people I have talked to have been mostly positive,” board President Jack Koenig said.
Two other firms had been attempting to get hired for the project. Freytag and Associates in Sidney and Garmann-Miller & Associates in Minster. However, board members seemed most impressed with Fanning/Howey.
“I like them because they have more resources,” Koenig said.
However, the school district is facing one catch. After OSFC officials visited the site May 20, their report after the visit stipulated that if the district decided to build on the current location, they would have to renovate and add on rather than build completely new. The cost of that project would have been $8.3 million, more than $2 million more if they would build new.
Many residents had expressed an interest in keeping the same location at three previous public meetings. However, school board members felt building on the current location would put unnecessary added stress on taxpayers’ wallets.
While board members have not been in any official discussions, casual conversations have been carried on with the Henry Hegemann trust which owns about 92 acres between Walnut Street and Botkins Community Park near Interstate 75. The estate is tied up in a tax shelter contract until September.
“There was some general discussion and they have expressed interest in selling the land,” Koenig said.
Current estimates for building the new facility are approximately $5.82 million for the local share, which will cost a total of approximately $23.3 million. The district is locked into a 25 percent share to be funded locally with the state funding 75 percent of the project.
Included in three funding options is the demolition of the 1956 school building, along with the 1965, 1984, 1990 and 1995 additions, save the new 1995 gymnasium. Depending what the board decides to do concerning locally funded initiatives, the board estimates approximately another $1 million in costs for paving and other projects at the gymnasium site.
For a taxpayer with a $100,000 home, the current estimates would increase their taxes from about $205 to $250 a year, based on an estimated 6.7- to 8.2-mill property levy.
Board members have until Aug. 5 to decide what millage to put up for a vote in the November election.
Board members rescheduled their regular meetings for July 15 and Aug. 17 and plan to discuss the new school vote in further detail. A special meeting will also be scheduled for either June 27 or July 6 to be determined at a future date, while another public meeting has been scheduled for Aug. 2.
In other action, board members approved the hiring of Don Mack as the high school varsity girls basketball coach after a lengthy executive session.
Mack was the junior varsity coach last season. He replaces Tom Platfoot, who submitted his resignation at a board meeting earlier this year.