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School Board rejects latest garage proposal

Friday, October 9, 2009

Tina Heffner
The Clay Community School Board of Trustees rejected the contract for the purchase of the City Coal Yard property for a possible future bus garage location.

The motion to accept the contract was rejected in a 4-3 vote, with Forrest Buell, Brian Atkinson, Tina Heffner, Jennifer Kaelber opposing the measure, and Dottie King, Terry Barr and Ted Jackson in favor.

"My concern though, is I don't want to move ahead yet because I would like to see what the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) Phase 1 and 2 study does say," Heffner said. "I have some really strong reservations and I would like to see the results before we buy land."

The purchase was contingent to the demolition of the existing structures and clean up of the property to meet EPA standards.

Heffner was also concerned about the funding of the corporation in the future.

"I guess I'm just not wanting to get in a rush and then get caught up in two acres of land that may seem strategically good," she said. "But at the same time, what are we going to do if we choose not to build there. Even with the rainy day fund, we don't know what we are looking at in the next year or two."

To purchase the property, the school corporation is required to have it appraised by two different appraisers and by law, CCSC can only offer the average of the two appraisals. The average appraisal cost was $73,500 on the coal yard property.

Though there is a need for a bus garage, some board members had reservations.

"Is the concern that somehow we can get by without a transportation garage?" Barr asked.

"My concerns at this point in time are with finances the way they are and renovations going on," Heffner answered. "Maybe we could hold back on a transportation garage because we really don't know where the budget is going next year."

Barr acknowledged there has been a necessity for a bus garage for many years, and she stated that is the viewpoint she is approaching.

"This has been a need, even before I came on to the board," she said. "This has been looked at for years, and the same concerns we have addressed, have been addressed."

However, the needs raised by Barr didn't ease doubts by board members.

"I don't understand why we can't go for a little bit more information than what is there," Kaelber said. "I just don't want to get something the EPA says is clean, but what if we found out later something is there."

At the conclusion of the meeting during the future agenda items, Barr asked the board for its suggestion for the location of a transportation garage.

The next meeting of the Clay Community School Board of Trustees will be at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 12, in the media center at North Clay Middle School.

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How much land does the corporation own around the central office. Maybe knock that down and put the garage AND office there. Transportation offices on ground floor and build central office on top of that.

While I still can't see why the board refuses to consider the option of assessing the populations at the various elementary schools and redistricting for a better balance and possibly using an eliminated elementary school for central office and preschool, thus eliminating the need for two other buildings instead of adding to the inventory, they need to at least consider ridding themselves of the central office property and combining that facility with transportation center. Design a building that can go up several stories and have it all at one location.

Bet you Eastside could hold all three.

Changing boundaries for schools is not that traumatic for students. Many of them move a lot anyhow and it only takes a few weeks to settle into another school. It actually has some future benefits as well and give them the knowledge that they can interact with a new set of people. Many urban school districts change their boundaries every few years to adjust for mobile populations. How many years has it been since we did that? I bet before half the houses out in the county were built.

The corporation keeps saying that they are putting academics first but are ignoring the fact that better balanced class sizes might be accomplished this way without spending a dime.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Sat, Oct 10, 2009, at 8:24 AM

The school corporation has the data on the sq. footage required for a new Central Office and maintenance facility. It is in the facilities study of 2007. The acreage requirement is 2.5 to 3 acres, although I would go with the three acres. Location is a consideration as movement costs money. As most of the buses that run in the north of the county go to the Northview / North Clay / Cumberland Academy complex on a daily basis, it stands to reason that the bus terminal should be near that. That is also the most concentrated point of our buildings so it would cut movement time of the Buildings and Grounds Department employees to maintain those facilities also which saves money.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Sat, Oct 10, 2009, at 11:29 AM

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