NEWTON FALLS SCHOOLS Board, officials discuss building, renovations

The building project is in the earliest stages of planning.
HOWLAND -- They've got the money. Now all the Newton Falls school board needs is a plan.
The school board members met Thursday at Avalon Inn with architects, consultants and representatives from the Ohio School Facilities Commission to learn the nitty-gritty details about constructing and renovating school buildings, and to learn what to expect when they go ahead with their project.
The board plans to build a new middle school, reconstruct the middle school into a K-2 elementary, and renovate the junior/senior high school.
Funds from bond issue: The district passed a bond issue in May that will generate the $4 million local share of building expenses. The state, through an OSFC grant, will make up the additional $16 million needed.
Consultant Steve Zannoni, who facilitated the meeting, explained how necessary it will be for all involved to cooperate on the project. More than 50 percent of major construction projects end up in court, he said.
"You need full community support on these difficult projects," he said. "You won't be successful without the community backing you."
Paul Ricciuti, principal planner for the project, said the meetings were important because "they bring all the issues to the forefront, so they can be dealt with."
Taking steps: Several steps must be taken before construction begins. Zannoni said the board shouldn't take too long in the planning stage, but they shouldn't start too early, either.
"Oftentimes, you've passed your levy and people want to see action right away," he said. "But it is critical that there is enough time to do the design work."
Architects will probably have a tentative schedule ready in about four weeks, Ricciuti said. Construction should begin in about a year.
"We want to create a facility that will be educationally sound and a good learning environment for students," schools superintendent Linda Clapp said. "We also want something that will bring pride to the community."

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