By CECILIA FOX
For the Troy Daily News
TIPP CITY — Because of the deteriorating conditions of the school buildings, the district is considering the possibility of school renovations and new buildings. To gauge community support for a bond issue to make construction possible, the district decided to poll Tipp City residents.
The school facilities committee met with residents, members of the school board and architect Mike Ruetschle on Monday night to discuss the results of the survey.
The school facilities committee has been discussing upgrading the school buildings for several years, and now with matching funds being offered by the state, the district has narrowed it down to a few plans. Plan A includes renovating and adding to L.T. Ball Intermediate to create one large kindergarten through eighth-grade building. Plan B would be a smaller K-5 building centered around L.T. Ball and a renovated middle school. Other options being considered are some locally funded initiatives to build a new athletic complex, a new auditorium, and a new community center.
According to Ruetschle, Plan A could cost about $41.5 million, while Plan B would cost about $38.5 million. A new athletic complex with all weather fields, upgraded stands, and locker rooms would cost $3.5 million.
“These are very early costs,” Ruetschle explained.
The district is eligible for 26 percent matching funds from the state, which would come to about $10 million, and must decide this spring to accept the funds and put a bond issue on the ballot in November.
A survey of 301 random residents, conducted by Fallon Research & Communications, shows that 88 percent of those surveyed believe that Tipp City schools provide students with an excellent education.
It also shows that 57 percent believe the district’s facilities to be in good or adequate condition and 67 percent were completely or mostly unaware of any facilities planning.
At the beginning of the survey, only about 39 percent of those polled were in favor of building new schools. About 49 percent were against it and 15 percent were undecided.
After answering follow-up questions that detailed the state of the schools (for example, asbestos in the schools, a lack of air conditioning, and the need for upgraded electrical systems, technology, and security), 48 percent were in favor of a bond issue, 44 percent were against it, and 8 percent were undecided.
When asked if Plan A ( the larger K-8 building built around L.T. Ball) was a good idea, 52 percent responded positively. About 60 percent of those surveyed felt Plan B, which builds a K-5 facility and renovates the middle school, was also a good idea. Either way, 65 percent of those surveyed agreed that fewer school buildings would be less expensive to maintain.
Most of those surveyed said that an athletic complex, which would not be co-funded by the state, was a low priority.
Many in the neighborhood surrounding Broadway Elementary are concerned with what will happen to the property if construction moves forward. A number of residents wish to see the older and more historical buildings like Tipp Central and Broadway preserved and would vote against any plan that would demolish current buildings.
Broadway Principal Galen Gingerich said the schools have great teachers and “do a great job of educating kids,” but there are a number of reasons that new buildings would allow the district to do an even better job providing for students.
New buildings would have much better technology that would allow the schools to keep up in a very tech driven world. Plan A or Plan B would keep all K-8 students in close proximity, which would allow older children to help tutor younger students.
“There are going to be some real benefits to that,” Gingerich said.
A few parents at the meeting said they felt the benefit of having newer, more secure buildings for the city’s students outweighed the historical value of the old buildings.
If the project goes forward, Broadway will no longer have an educational use. The state will co-fund the removal of the building, but other organizations like Tipp-Monroe Community services, which currently uses parts of the building, could take it over for other purposes. Kronour said that this may be unlikely, because of the building’s infrastructure issues.
The property could even be turned into a community park. But there is currently “no set answer,” Superintendent Dr. John Kronour explained. Ruetschle said that, because it will be years before any construction begins, the community has a lot of time to decide what will happen to Broadway and Tipp Central.
Many of those surveyed and several residents at the meeting said they would need more details about the plan before they could vote on it.
More information about facilities planning can be found on the district website, including information about Plans A and B and the results of the survey, at www.tippcityschools.com. Those residents with questions or comments can contact Dr. John Kronour at 669-1357 or firstname.lastname@example.org.