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United to seek bond issue to rebuild school

January 14, 2011

HANOVERTON- United Local residents will get to choose in May whether they want to renovate and rebuild the K-12 campus.

The board Thursday night unanimously agreed to place on the ballot a 3.92-mill, 37-year bond issue that will raise $9.75 million for the project.

"Ultimately, it's up to the voters whether we can proceed," explained board President Sue Drotleff. "This is not ... the board saying 'full speed ahead.'"

The bond issue will cost the owner of a $100,000 home $120 per year.

The Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) is providing most of the funding for the project, estimated at roughly $37 million, including United's local share.

With the efforts of the community group Project Future, the school board and administration have for the past several months been working with the OSFC to determine what path to take regarding upgrades to the campus, which is suffering severe maintenance issues due to old age, according to Superintendent RuthAnn Rinto.

"The building is very old," she said, noting collapsing roofs, falling walls and malfunctioning boilers. "When we look at the cost of replacing and repairing things, it's almost a bargain to build a whole new school for $9 million, our local share."

Following an enrollment projection, the OSFC determined the $37 million to allot the district for a building project. The funding is offered on a 79 percent-21 percent matching fund in which United has to provide the $9.75 million.

According to Rinto, the architect is still working on the concept drawings, but the initial plans call for a new building to be constructed around the newer parts of the current facility, those being the kindergarten wing, the new gymnasium and the auditorium.

A Project Future meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Jan. 19 at the school to discuss the project and bond issue; and a meeting with OSFC representatives is scheduled for Jan. 21 to review the process so far and look to what comes next.

In other business, the board provided the school's parcel numbers to Nick Caulk, a representative from DPS Penn, a partner in oil and gas drilling with Chesapeake Energy, to determine whether the company would be interested in leasing the property to obtain natural resources.

According to Caulk, the school would be handled on an individual basis and could request provisions in its contract prohibiting surface drilling on the property. The company is currently seeking units of 640 contiguous acres for drilling, and any interest in the district's property is dependent on its possible productivity and the acquisition of surrounding property, he noted.

Additionally, the board hired licensed social worker Jim Gardner as a liaison and facilitator of the new program "Project Outreach," in which he will work with special education students and their families to enhance the education they receive at United.

Gardner will be paid $20,000 and the project will be paid for through funding earmarked for special education.

The board also approved supplemental contracts for head coaches Todd Sarchet, boys tennis; Robert Manfull, varsity baseball; and Bob Reeder, varsity softball.

And the board established community hours for the weight room of 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at no cost. Board member Mike Ellyson, who will serve as coordinator, said the program will go for three months at which time community interest will be evaluated to determine whether to continue.

At its annual organizational meeting, the board elected Drotleff as president and re-elected Mike Phillis as vice president.

The next regular board meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Feb. 10 in the high school Library.

Kevin Howell can be reached at



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