Private group wants to save part of Kettering schools 94-year-old site

The Kettering City Schools board of education Tuesday night is expected to take a first step toward tearing down its oldest building, but part of the structure may be saved.

A private group is interested — at least in some fashion — in preserving the D.L. Barnes building, a 94-year-old site at 3750 Far Hills Ave., or Ohio 48, Kettering school board President Toby Henderson said Monday.

The school board is scheduled to vote to authorize district leaders to seek bids for the environmental abatement of the former high school and junior high.

The abatement and eventual tearing down of the site built in 1929 has been projected to cost $2.1 million, district officials have said.

But how much of it will be demolished will be better known after a study by a private local group, Henderson said.

“Right now, the path we’re on (is to have) the building demolished,” he said. “If (the study) comes back and there’s going to be some private funding for us to repurpose the Barnes building, the remediation we’re doing now still has to happen. There’s no question about that.

“If there is some way for us to use the building after the study comes back and this private group has a path (to raise) funds for us to make some use of the building, then I guess we’ll have to figure out what that looks like or whether that’s something the district is interested in doing or what the circumstances are,” Henderson added.

The Barnes demolition is part of up to $5 million in capital improvement projects in a 10-year deal the board of education approved late last year to finance the work, district records show.

The Barnes cost estimate is about equal the district’s annual discretionary budget in its permanent improvement fund, Kettering schools Treasurer Cary Furniss has said.

To spend district money on funding its renovation is cost prohibitive, both Furniss and Henderson said.

“I suppose there’s a possibility whereby we’re ultimately in a position (that) we could repurpose the Barnes building for some use and the way we fund that would be with private donations and not with any taxpayer dollars,” Henderson said.

“I think there’s still going to be some demolition no matter what,” he added. “The question is what’s all going to be demolished.”

The Barnes building was once a high school and then a junior high before the district consolidated in the 1980s. For decades, it housed Kettering schools’ central offices before the administration moved to Lincoln Park Drive more than three years ago.

At that time, then-district business director Ken Lackey told the Dayton Daily News demolition of the Barnes site was likely due to an estimated $17 million in renovations required.

About the Author