Tipp City starts planning for school construction proposal

School board works with new architectural firm; Voters rejected a ballot issue to pay for new classroom space in 2019

TIPP CITY — The Tipp City school board has selected a new architectural firm, created a task force and is embarking on a new facilities planning process.

The board chose Garmann Miller architects of Minster to work with it and the community on a school facilities proposal.

The school district’s last proposal for facilities construction was a bond issue in 2019 for new elementary classrooms. It was defeated at the polls.

A facilities committee that met for months recently recommended hiring of Garmann Miller after interviewing the Minster firm and Ruetschle Architects of Dayton, which had worked on district proposals for several years.

The approach to planning now includes an executive committee of Superintendent Mark Stefanik; Kim Hagen, district business manager; Liz Robbins, district communications coordinator; and Treasurer Melanie Fox.

A task force was formed recently that includes community members, staff, administrators and the board.

“Aside from the executive committee, this group will have the most direct partnership with the architect,” Stefanik told the board in November. The task force could be expanded depending on needs.

One of the first steps in the new planning process was to meet with Garmann Miller representatives — Eric Baltzell, Monica Bruaw and Wayne Colman — for a presentation on the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission and its programs for possibly funding a portion of a project. The board of education heard that presentation during a special meeting on Dec. 6.

Because most board members are new to the facilities planning process, Stefanik said the architects’ primary goal was to provide better process understanding for using state funding. The board made no decisions on the direction it would take.

The state share of any accepted project cost is now listed at 42 percent, leaving the local share at 58 percent.

Bruaw said the architects have reached out to OFCC regarding the district’s funding status but received no firm answer. The district should first apply for the Expedited Local Partnership Program, or ELPP, to begin the funding consideration process. It later can convert a request to the Classroom Facilities Assistance Program, or CFAP, if appropriate. Both programs provide funding, with ELPP funds coming on a reimbursement basis.

Many factors need to be reviewed before decisions are made, Baltzell said. Among them will be a 10-year enrollment projection and a district facilities review.

The architects recently completed a walk-through of all district buildings to get a first-hand assessment of conditions. They will meet with elementary and secondary school staff in January to discuss input on facilities. Community input also will be sought, but a date and process has not been announced.

Contact this contributing writer at nancykburr@aol.com.

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