PIQUA — The Piqua City Schools Board of Education is getting a new, downsized home that administrators say will save taxpayers money.
Superintendent Dwayne Thompson announced on Monday that the BOE offices, currently located at 719 E. Ash St., will be relocating to 215 Looney Road by the end of the summer.
“In 2014, the board began to explore options for a location that would be the best value for taxpayers by reducing our lease and utility costs.” Thompson said. “Our current location has served us well and Lloyd Fry has been an outstanding landlord to work with, but our new location will allow us to downsize, which will translate to saving tax dollars.”
The board had explored other options, including the renovation of one of Piqua’s old elementary schools; Nicklin and High Street schools both were considered. However, BOE Treasurer Jeremie Hittle noted, those buildings were built in the 1950s and would have required extensive, costly work including asbestos abatement, roof and window replacements, HVAC upgrades and remodeling
Hittle explained, “We did not want spend that kind of money on older buildings that had future unknowns for us to worry about and our plan all along was not to ask for additional funds from our tax payers while planning for a successful transition to a downsized location.”
Thompson said that they had looked at various other buildings throughout the city as possibilities, but a combination of issues such as size, cost, location, and maintenance ruled them out as viable options.
“City Manager Gary Huff and Assistant City Manager Justin Sommer have been very helpful by keeping us posted on possible locations as they became available,” Thompson said. “When this building became available it was a perfect match. It also allows us to occupy a building that would have otherwise been empty.”
The building on Looney Road initially served as a Social Security Administration office before becoming an office space owned by the Sunrise Cooperative. It was originally listed at $999,000, which the district could not afford, Thompson said.
“We had funds reserved from the sale of previous school site properties and we received refunded dollars from the state once the new elementary buildings project costs were finalized that we wanted to use for this transition,” he explained.
As a result of working with the Sunrise Cooperative, the district’s final cost for the building was $864,427.24.
“We are grateful to The Sunrise Cooperative for working with us on this purchase,” Board President Andy Hite said. “The building is very well taken care of. It is beautiful inside and it came fully furnished.”
Hittle said that owning the building will spare the district from paying a monthly lease and that “based on comparing the utility costs at our current location and the Sunrise building, we estimate that we could save between $25,000 to $30,000 a year in utility bills.”
Hittle explained that using the funds the board had reserved from previous school property sales as well as the refunded construction project money will save taxpayers. “Because we can pay for this building now, we won’t be paying interest or for a lease that will not translate into owning the building ourselves. If we were to pay our current lease for an additional 13 years, we would have enough money to actually purchase and own our new location.
“We feel the cost savings with this transition is the most responsible way to save money.”