Officials at Buckeye Valley Local Schools asked voters in November 2015 to pass a $31.25 million bond issue for the construction of two new elementary buildings. After a recount of the votes, the bond issue barely passed by two votes. Andrew Miller, the school district’s superintendent, said both buildings should be occupied by students, hopefully, by the end of January 2019.
“Buckeye Valley West (Bellepoint) on state Route 257, we were hearing initially that it could be done at the end of October,” he said. “We’re a little bit behind because of all the rain that we had in June, but we’re trying to work out a schedule to catch up. Once we get a little more solid information, we’ll schedule the transition into the building.”
Making the move
Miller said the building will have all new furniture, and the only things that need to be brought to the building are the kids, the curriculum and materials.
“We’ll try to coincide the move with the break, either Thanksgiving or Christmas, depending on how the schedule goes,” he said. “We’re looking at occupying Buckeye Valley East (Ashley) at the end of January 2019.”
Miller said when the kids at BV East were moved into the new section mid-year last year, the old furniture was moved with them, but it all will be replaced with new like Buckeye Valley West once the building is complete.
Miller added that for the 2019-2020 school year, the fifth-graders will be moved from the middle school and start attending school at the new elementary buildings.
“We’re going to have to look at staffing changes, which teachers will go with the fifth-graders now that each of the elementary buildings has three or four more classrooms, and do we have enough special staff like gym and art teachers.”
In past reports, the projected cost for BV East is $11.6 million, which is designed to serve 475 students with a part of the old building, that has now been demolished, being incorporated into the new building.
The projected cost for BV West is $13.6 million, and it is designed to serve 625 students. The district purchased 39 acres of land along state Route 257 just north of Bellepoint in Concord Township for $535,000 in the spring of 2016 for the construction of the new building. The current BV West building will be donated to the Village of Ostrander once vacated.
Miller said that the biggest question was how to serve the students and get things in order going into the 2019-2020 school year.
“I think that is going to be the real focus,” he said. “It’s going to be a behind the scenes thing that will happen before anyone knows about.”
According to Kristine Michael, the district’s director of academic achievement, parents and students have been asking for more advanced offerings in classes for college placement. She said among the new courses being offered to students this year are advanced placement in chemistry, physics and computer science.
“We’re going into a math adoption year, so we’re looking at new math materials and doing a lot of research as a district committee,” she said. “We’re really excited about some new courses that we’re going to be offering this coming year.”
Michael said the district has hired a new instructional coach that will be housed at the middle school to support the content areas of science and social studies.
“With the work that we’ve been doing in language arts, reading and writing, the last three years, she is going to help us meld that into the content areas,” she said. “She’ll also make sure that we have a consistent ELA program (English Language Arts) as our students transition from eighth to ninth grade. We’re very excited about having that support person.”
Miller said he was excited about some of the new staff that was hired this summer.
“New teachers at all levels because we got in early with our postings and just got some really, really top-notch applicants this time,” he said. “We got some really, really strong people to add to the current staff. Most were to the high school, mostly some science and math teachers.”
Miller said when there are retirements or resignations of teachers, instead of looking at filling the exact same spots, the district looks between the middle and high schools to see how positions can be crafted for placement opportunities to better meet the needs of the kids.
New school resource officer
Michael said that last spring the district ran an audit of the school counseling program and came up with some recommendations that will be phased in over the next three to four years.
“We’re hoping to have a new school resource officer join us,” she said. “Deputy Fred Strawser (Buckeye Valley School resource officer) will continue to work with us but because we are so geographically spread out, somebody is going to get the short end of the stick.”
Miller said the additional school resource officer has been hired.
“School security is something that we really have to watch out for,” he said. “Having one school resource officer for all four buildings didn’t do anything preventive. We’re hoping with two officers divided between the four buildings, we can get out and do a little bit more of the proactive work with the kids.”
“We really appreciate the partnership with the county and the county commissioners. They kind of go 50-50 with us on those hires,” he added.
Miller said the new person will primarily work with the kids at the elementary schools, while Strawser will continue to work with the middle and high school students.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.