AUSTINTOWN Schools chief: Count on levy on ballot

A committee to run the levy campaign will be set up next week.
AUSTINTOWN -- Schools Superintendent Richard Denamen is 99 percent sure the board of education will place a levy on the ballot this fall.
"It's needed," Denamen said after a board work session Thursday night, at which the board discussed a proposal to build a new junior high school while renovating and expanding Frank Ohl Middle School. The levy would pay for the project.
The board hasn't set the millage, but Denamen said it would most likely be less than four mills. Deadline to get the issue on the November ballot is Aug. 23.
Estimated cost: Youngstown architect Raymond Jaminet estimated that the project could cost $32 million. Jaminet and fellow architect Michael Fagan used Thursday's meeting to update the board on the proposals they've developed.
Jaminet said one of the projects could call for the construction of a junior high school on the southwest corner of Raccoon Road and Falcon Drive at an estimated cost of $15.7 million.
Another project would be construction of a $6.6 million addition that would more than double the size of Frank Ohl Middle School and $6.7 million in renovations there.
If the levy is approved, work could start next summer and be finished by August 2004, Jaminet said.
Denamen said the board and architects would meet with parents, pupils and staff before finalizing the projects.
Organizing campaign: There will be a meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday in Austintown Middle School to organize a committee to run the levy campaign. Denamen said he'd like to see at least 50 people attend the meeting.
"The more the better," he said. "We're not going to turn anybody away."
The projects could lead to the sale of Austintown Middle School and a realignment calling for pupils in grades four through six to attend Frank Ohl, while all seventh- and eighth-graders would attend Austintown Middle School or the new junior high.
A group of school officials and local residents created the plan in April 2000.
Realignment could make it easier for teachers to prepare fourth- and sixth-graders for the state proficiency tests by placing them in the same building, Denamen said. Realignment also would help equalize class sizes and centralize the buildings.
Denamen also said Austintown Middle School could be sold if Frank Ohl is renovated and the new school is built. Austintown Middle was built in 1916 and needs to be repaired or replaced, he said.

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