PIQUA — Each morning that Piqua City Schools Superintendent Dwayne Thompson arrives at work is like he’s seeing his new environs for the first time.
With its lush, high-backed leather chairs, walls painted in cool earth tones with artistic expertise, furniture that is at once traditional and timeless, and other accoutrements of comfort, the building that now houses the district’s board of education and administrative offices is truly a sight to behold.
“I still can’t believe it,” Thompson said earlier this week during a tour of the new headquarters, located at 215 Looney Road, near the intersection of Looney and Garbry roads.
Thompson admits he initially had reservations about the district purchasing the building because at 8,935 square feet, it was a bit smaller than the 10,000 square feet of space they were seeking.
“I thought, ‘On paper, this looks great.’ I came over and drove around the back of the building, and toured it. I counted the number of offices and the number of people we had. The building had everything we needed. It literally fit us like a glove,” he said.
“Plus, the location is perfect — just off I-75 and down the road from the junior high and high school. And it’s right by the new roundabout.”
And, perhaps best of all, it didn’t cost the taxpayers a dime.
Originally listed for a hefty $1 million, the building was bought from Sunrise Cooperative with funds from the sale of previous school site properties and state-refunded monies from the new elementary building projects.
“We asked what the absolute bottom-line price was and $864,427.24 was the number Sunrise came up with,” Thompson said. “So we bought it outright.”
The former owners donated all furnishings and equipment that was in the building, which includes a full kitchen. All the PCS staff had to move was their computers and a few essentials like the plaques and family photos that decorate Thompson’s office.
The new BOE building served as a Social Security administrative office (which relocated a stone’s throw away to 277 Looney Road) prior to being owned by Sunrise Cooperative.
Sunrise President and CEO George Secor said, “Sunrise Cooperative is extremely pleased our former Looney Road property will serve the Piqua City Schools and the Piqua community moving forward.”
The former BOE building at 719 E. Ash St. was an older structure that once served as a meat-packing plant. Thompson said the building required “a lot of upkeep and was more space than we really needed,” in addition to not being cost-efficient.
“My predecessor and the board were leasing the old building for $88,000 a year and wanted to save the taxpayers money,” Thompson said. And thus, the search for a new home began.
The board explored several options, including renovating one of Piqua’s old elementary schools; the former Nicklin and High Street school buildings were considered. But BOE Treasurer Jeremie Hittle noted that those buildings were built in the 1950s and would have required extensive — and expensive — work including asbestos abatement, roof and window replacements, HVAC upgrades and more.
“The work would require well over $1 million, plus upkeep,” Thompson said. “We believe we can cut one-third to one-half of the utility costs in the new building. That’s a savings of $90,000 to $100,000 a year.”
A Piqua native and alumnus of its schools, Thompson remembers the BOE moving to and from different locations over the years. “There have been three different buildings in my lifetime,” he said.
“But this building — I can see us being in it for the long term.”
Reach Belinda M. Paschal at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 451-3341