Tipp board hears construction details

By Cecilia Fox - cfox@civitasmedia.com

TIPP CITY — The Tipp City Board of Education heard additional details on the proposed plan to build a new elementary school.

The board also voted to approve a pre-bond limited service agreement for the building project with Ruetschle Architects at a cost not to exceed $125,000. Ruetschle Architects has been working with the district for about 6 years, during which time they have worked for free, board member Kate Johnsen said.

Mike Ruetschle attended the meeting and presented the board with some updates on the planning process.

According to Ruetschle, the district’s assessed value has risen to $373 million from $368 million.

“So that’s helpful,” Ruetschle said.

With the assessed value up, the budget for the project could go up to about $30 million, Ruetschle said. The projected millage would remain at 3.99 mills, but the architects are recommending an increase in the project budget for square footage and for swing space.

Ruetschle cited the Bethel school district’s construction project as an example of another locally funded building project, saying that their recent bid opening showed pressure in several areas driving certain costs higher. These include general trades, electrical, plumbing, and masonry.

This gives the architects and the district a good idea of what to expect when it’s time to bid the project, he explained. Bethel’s project bid well and came in under budget, he said.

Ruetschle also said that he has been meeting with a core planning team to discuss swing space —where the students will be housed during construction. One idea is to put modular classrooms on open space around L.T. Ball and use that building’s cafeteria.

Ruetschle added that he will be organizing tours of other new schools including Milton-Union and Northmont’s primary school.

At a Sept. 17 work session, the board discussed possibly placing request for both a new building and a stadium on the March ballot.

On Monday night, several residents urged the board to focus on new classrooms first.

“The stadium can’t take priority over education,” resident and local teacher Sandy Beck said.

Those who spoke agreed that the stadium is an issue to be addressed, but expressed concern that two bond issues on the ballot at the same time could draw support from the building project.

“Now is not the time,” resident Stan Evans said.

In other business, the board set a public hearing to discuss re-hiring Bruce Cahill, a previously retired district employee, as the high school boys varsity baseball coach.

The board also accepted nearly $8,800 in grants from the Tipp Foundation. These grants will go toward reading intervention and several field trips for Nevin Coppock students.

By Cecilia Fox