Four years ago, the Big Walnut Local School District central office moved out of the Galena building, with the intention of using space at Big Walnut Intermediate School for four to five years. Last week, during the Big Walnut Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Angie Pollock said it was time to move on.
“With this year’s fourth grade over 300 students, we’ve been looking at four options for locations to move the central office,” Pollock said. “We decided the most feasible is to renovate space in the existing transportation building’s empty warehouse in the back.”
The district transportation building is located at 117 Kintner Parkway, just off West Cherry Street in Sunbury. The front of the building houses the transportation office; district bus mechanics use a shop at the rear of the building, and the district’s bus fleet is parked outside. The large warehouse space between the office and mechanics’ bays has been empty since the building was purchased several years ago.
“We’ve been looking at that space,” Pollock said. “We said we would use this space in the intermediate school for three to five years; we’re on year four here right now. We want to do an RFQ (request for quotation) seeking an architect, then we’ll do a request for bids; but we need to get on it right now so we can get in before the 2016-17 school year begins.”
District Treasurer Terri Day said the district would use money already set aside for capital expenditures for the transportation building warehouse renovation project.
“Money from the sale of the Galena building, the old bus garage and the house the school district owned all have to be used for capital projects, so that money is available,” Day said.
Pollock said the move would release six full-size classrooms at the intermediate school for student use and some smaller spaces.
Pollock also noted that the school district’s economic development committee now has representation from all Big Walnut area stakeholders, including political subdivisions.
“We’re continuing our dialogues about growth, and during the next meeting we’ll be breaking into subcommittees to discuss student enrollment,” Pollock said. “During our Oct. 20 meeting, we’ll talk about recommendations for upgrades to our existing facilities. So many capital improvements were put off during the recession. We want committee members to be aware of the state of our current facilities, and our needs for the next decade.”
Board member Allison Fagan said that, with recent school shootings around the country, she believes security upgrades need to be high on the list.
“As I look around the district, I’m happy with the high school and middle school when it comes to security,” Fagan said. “But the other buildings make me nervous.”
Pollock said the district would look at security upgrades, space the district will need for new students entering the district, and other building upgrades.
“We have some needs, like the air-conditioning that was installed the high school when it was built in 1991 – that’s near the end of its life,” Pollock said.
Board member Brad Schneider said members of the economic development committee should also discuss a host of multi-family housing applications coming before zoning commissions in the Big Walnut district.
“We need to be as unified as we can,” Schneider said. “Multi-family densities increase burdens on the school district. We need to encourage zoning commissions, Village Council members and township trustees to really think hard about all these multi-family requests.”
Pollock said economic development committee member contact information would be made available on the school district website.
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093