Bethany J. Royer
PIQUA — The topic of whether or not to move the current Piqua Board of Education from the current Ash Street facility to several other proposed sites was the lead topic of a special meeting held Monday afternoon. Those locations discussed included Nicklin Learning Center at an estimated conversion cost of $440,000 and a building donated by Fifth Third Bank (401 North Main St.) in conjunction with a $165,000 donation from Unity Bank for renovations.
If not converted to office space, holding on to an old school such as Nicklin was proposed should the district be faced with an increase of students, as sometimes is the case after building new facilities, explained Rick Hanes, superintendent for Piqua City Schools.
Hanes, however, did not see that scenario unfolding, given that growth projections showed influx to be small to negligible. Yet, he admitted it was dependent on the success of the school district, community, and open enrollment in terms of a larger (or not) student body.
“So having an extra building could be a good insurance policy,” said Bob Luby, Board of Education member, with Hanes offering the possibility of moth-balling a building for future use. The empty structure would need to be maintained just as if it were occupied, which incurs a cost in and of itself, something Curt South, construction project owner representative, suggested transpire for only a short period of time.
“I would say (no) more than three to five years,” said South before board members opened the floor to Ed Fry, property owner of the current BOE location, who felt it did not make any sense in the grand scheme of things to move.
“To me, it comes down to dollars and cents,” said Fry, who would like to see more dollars spent on students as opposed to the expense of a new location, given the Ash Street facility offers everything the board needs from operational, educational, and school bus garage space in a centralized location, “As a landlord and a tax payer, this is the cheapest place for the school board to remain for the city of Piqua.”
Offering a five-year renewal lease at a reduced rate, Fry continued, “If the air conditioning goes out, we replace it. If the roof leaks, we fix it. The carpet needs replaced, and so on. We offer you a total solution, totally centralized so that you can run the most efficient school operation and keep the most dollars going to our students.”
For now, and as emphasized by Board of Education President Andy Hite, the board has a lot to wrestle with in terms of making a decision.
The next BOE meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 25, at the Municipal Government Complex.
Bethany J. Royer may be reached at (937) 773-2721 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall