SOUTHERN LOCAL SCHOOLS Project plans await state OK

The district has yet to find a buyer for one of the buildings that's to be vacated.
HIGHLANDTOWN -- A change in state procedures is delaying groundbreaking on a $14.3 million school improvement and expansion project affecting the Southern Local School District.
School officials said in April that they expected work to begin this month.
But it appears now that construction won't start until late August or early September, Superintendent Jeff Weekley said Thursday.
Key step: The delay is necessary because the Ohio School Facilities Commission has yet to approve final construction plans, Weekley explained.
That approval is expected in the next week or so, he added. But until it's granted, the school district cannot advertise for construction bids.
Previously, the school facilities commission allowed bid advertising and plan approval to proceed simultaneously, Weekley said. But the commission changed the procedure earlier this year to avoid having bids come in based on flawed plans.
New timeline: The district now expects construction bids to be awarded near the end of July. Summer 2003 is now the projected completion date.
The facilities commission is contributing about $11.2 million to the work. The remainder is coming from nearly $3.1 million the district will borrow through a bond sale approved in March 2000.
What's being done: The district plans to renovate and enlarge its junior-senior high school in Washington Township, converting it into a kindergarten-through-12th-grade complex.
Expansion will include a second cafeteria and a 300-seat gymnasium for elementary and junior-high pupils.
Putting all the district's nearly 900 pupils on one campus will allow the district to close its intermediate school in Salineville and transform its primary school on state Route 39 into administrative offices and storage space.
District officials want to sell the intermediate school, formerly the Salineville High School.
No buyer has been found so far for the building, Weekley said. If officials haven't found a buyer by June 2002, the building probably will be razed, Weekley said.
School officials have said they are expanding and renovating to remedy overcrowding in the district's buildings and to modernize its facilities.

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