WADSWORTH — A majority of residents surveyed agree with a proposal to replace the aging Central Intermediate School, and at least two board of education members hope to preserve the building’s O.J. Work Auditorium in the process.
Superintendent Andrew Hill presented the board with the results of a survey distributed to the community about the future of the 111-year-old school at 151 Main St.
The data was garnered from three public forums and an online survey to provide the district with public opinion following a November recommendation by the Central Intermediate School Committee that the school be replaced.
The committee was composed of nearly 40 community members including parents, faculty and representatives from downtown organizations who worked about a year researching their report.
Hill said 397 surveys were submitted by the April 2 deadline.
According to the answers, 58.4 percent support the committee’s recommendation as written and 17.1 percent do not. Another 24.4 percent support the recommendation to replace the school, but with modifications to the recommendation.
Michael Foore, a member of the committee, said during the November meeting it would cost $21.5 million to bring the school up to 2017 standards, while the estimate to replace the structure would be an estimated $24 million.
A contribution from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission would bring the cost down to an estimated $15.1 million, he said.
Hill said he and district Treasurer Douglas Beeman contacted the commission last week, and were informed that if the district would like to proceed with the project and receive funding, to let it know as soon as possible.
“It’s kind of unprecedented times right now with the OFCC with the number of requests that they have,” Hill said during the meeting. “They receive so much money allocated to them every two years as part of the budget process.”
Board member Linda Kramer said proceeding with construction of a new intermediate school is obvious to her.
“It is kind of a no-brainer to me that we cannot renovate. If we build a new building somewhere, we could get money from probably the state. If we renovate, we get nothing.”
Kramer said while she agrees it is time for a new school building, she would like to see Central Intermediate’s O.J. Work Auditorium preserved.
“My mother graduated from that school, my kids graduated from that school, I graduated from that school right up on that stage,” she said.
Board member Julie Batey echoed Kramer’s sentiments.
“I believe it is time to build a new CIS; however, I cannot strongly enough say that we really do need to have in mind what is going to happen to CIS and, more importantly, what is going to be done with O.J. Work Auditorium.”
Batey said it is important to have more than one performing arts center, and the preservation of the O.J. Work Auditorium would be beneficial to the community.
Hill said he would contact the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission to try to determine the next steps in the process.
“Probably at some point we need to start having some lengthy discussion about how we move forward with this two-part thing — a new building and the preservation of O.J. Work.”
Contact reporter Nathan Havenner at (330) 721-4050 or email@example.com.