Transport center being planned

The new center will be funded through the sale of Austintown Middle School.
AUSTINTOWN -- It's looking likely that the school district will build its new transportation center on its main campus, behind Fitch High School.
The board of education gave the schools superintendent the go-ahead to have MS Consultants develop plans for building the center there.
Superintendent Doug Heuer said at the board's Tuesday meeting that he was asking for permission to move ahead to get more detailed plans and to see if there would be any reason not to build the center there.
The district has sold the Austintown Middle School on Mahoning Avenue, where the transportation center is now. Pupils from AMS and from Frank Ohl Middle School will move into a new middle school that is being built on Raccoon Road in fall 2007. Frank Ohl will then house fourth- and fifth-graders.
The school board has been working for months on where to put the new center. It had considered putting it on property the district owns on Route 46, but discovered that much of that property is wetlands. It searched for other properties to buy, but could find nothing suitable.
"All the properties had drawbacks that vary from location to traffic flow to price," Heuer said.
The school board had also wondered if it was a good idea to sacrifice green space on the main campus for the center. Heuer said that because the high school stadium is now going to get a new, all-weather field, the need for green space on the campus is not as critical.
He said the savings from not having to buy property ranges from 250,000 to 450,000.
The district needs to have the center built by the time the new school opens next year. The 15,000-square-foot building will be behind Fitch High School. Its estimated cost is 2.1 million, and it will be paid for out of funds from the sale of AMS.
In other business, the board received a petition with 50 signatures that asks for the removal of Jim Evans as general manager of the Austintown Community Television Channel 19. The petition also asks for a new teacher for the television production classes at the high school.
Dennis Hileman, a sophomore who spearheaded the petition drive, said that Evans resigned after only two weeks as teacher of the classes. He said substitute teachers come in, but don't teach the classes. The classes have become a study hall, he said.
Evans continues to hold his position as director of Channel 19, but he is not performing his job duties, the petition asserts.
Heuer said Evans has a full-time job besides his positions in the district, and that he had to resign the teaching post because of a conflict with that job. He said, though, that he knows of several Channel 19 projects Evans has recently worked on. "To my knowledge, his duties as director -- I hadn't heard those had been neglected," Heuer said. He said he would look into the matter and that meanwhile, the district is searching for someone to take over the teaching position.

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