Bethel board votes on classroom space, consultant


BETHEL TWP. — At a special meeting held Wednesday night, the Bethel board of education voted not to add instruction space through the previously discussed options of renovation, the installation of modular units or the construction of a steel building.

The board opted instead to shuffle classes around existing spaces for the 2019-2020 school year while planning for a more long term solution. The board has projected a need for two to three additional classrooms every year for the foreseeable future.

Board president Jacob King said the district is in a difficult situation and that he is not sure the board’s action is the right decision, but he said that a short term decision needed to be made so the district can plan for the future.

The board considered a steel building that could house between four to six classrooms and would cost about $1.5 million. In the future, it could be reconfigured to be used as a gym or cafeteria space. They also discussed moving choir classes into the auditorium and splitting the choir room into two or three classrooms at a cost of about $350,000, as well as the installation of modular classroom units, which would cost between $650,000 to $875,000, plus $100,000 to uninstall them later.

A steel building could house between four to six more classrooms and would cost about $1.5 million. In the future, it could be reconfigured to be used as a gym or cafeteria space.

The district could also renovate and split the choir room and move the choir classes into the auditorium. That option would cost the district around $350,000.

The district is also considering modular classroom units, which would cost between $650,000 to $875,000, plus $100,000 to uninstall them later.

A fourth option to rearrange the use of existing spaces, described as “zero cost,” is intended to give the district more time to see what the next state budget looks like and come up with a long term plan.

At a previous meeting, the district’s treasurer Brennon Hattery said the district is currently capped by the state budget, which means its state funding is limited because it is growing so quickly. He estimated that the district is losing about $4 million in state funding every year.

The district has joined a coalition of Ohio districts that is working to have the cap removed, he said. If the cap is removed and the district receives more funding, it would have more money to put into a future expansion project.

The board also voted to hire K-12 Business Consulting to assist the district in its search for a new superintendent. The board elected to go with the company’s gold level of search — which has the most community input, board member Todd Wright pointed out — at a cost of $17,900.

Superintendent Ginny Potter announced her intention to leave the district when her contract ends next summer.