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Poland school board prioritizes repairs for buildings in district

POLAND — Poland Board of Education members met for their monthly work session Wednesday and discussed finding a path toward making necessary repairs in the district.

The meeting opened with Poland Local Schools Treasurer Janet Muntean presenting plans, ideas and needed repairs for all the district’s buildings. The document showed immediate needs and future requests.

“This document will change as we narrow down a plan,” Muntean said.

Some highlights in the document included two projects at the high school, a $475,000 parking lot repair and a nearly $3 million roof replacement.

Replacing all the windows at McKinley is estimated to cost $2.5 million, and a $75,000 fire alarm upgrade would be required to meet state guidelines.

The document placed numbers on each item, renovation or replacement. Urgent items were given a higher number than projects that could wait. By changing the urgency of an item, the total would be changed automatically. Muntean and Director of Operations Matt McKenzie designed the document to be changed easily as board members crafted a plan.

Poland Board President Dr. Larry Dinopoulos said, “Our plan needs to be a 50-year plan.”

Ideas posed included using North Union and Dobbins schools for the growing enrollment numbers.

After discussing the options, Dinopoulos asked each board member for his or her thoughts on which schools should be used and how they should be used.

Board member Larry Warren said, “We need to look long range, so we need to develop a plan strong enough to survive in the coming years.”

He said just because voters turned down the bond levy, it didn’t mean they would not support building an addition to an existing building.

Board member Annie Dominic said it would be a lot easier to move the Board of Education offices than students. Ideas were presented to move the board offices to Union, North or back to the high school.

Board member Troy Polis said he was in favor of putting the K-3 or K-4 at North Elementary, having the board office at the high school and moving grades 7 and 8 back to the middle school.

Dinopoulos said he was opposed to moving grades 7-8 from the high school.

“Spend money to keep 7-8 at the high school long-term,” he said. “Get rid of the North property. Moving the board offices to North is just ridiculous. We need two campuses not four.”

Board member-elect Greg Riddle was in the crowd at the work session, and was asked for his input. Riddle had served four years from 2018 through 2021.

“We had tough decisions to make in 2018,” Riddle said. “The former board agreed we were going to have two campuses at the high school and middle school. Now we are talking about opening the schools up again (North and Union)?”

He said in past years the district has made some repairs with cash. He said the district could borrow $25 million and make two pristine campuses.

Superintendent Craig Hockenberry said one session with voters had taken place last month and a second one is planned at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 12 at Dobbins. He said the first session had more than 70 people in attendance.

“The board office would have to be moved to another building by the end of May,” Muntean said. “The office is too busy after May to make a move.”

Hockenberry agreed and said the ideal situation is to make a permanent move.

As for what grades should be in which buildings, Hockenberry said time is running out. He said 57 scenarios could be selected.

“If we keep discussing this and nothing happens, we will just end up moving again and again,” he said. “I don’t know how far we can kick this can down the road. Our deadline is Dec. 13, or I am going to recommend we don’t do anything (right now).”

jtwhitehouse@vindy.com

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