The Athens City School District Board of Education approved the filing of the district’s facilities master plan with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission during its regular board meeting Thursday night at Athens High School. 

The facilities master plan, sometimes referred to as "option four," includes two new pre-K to third-grade buildings, one renovated fourth- to sixth-grade building, a renovation to Athens Middle School and a new Athens High School. The board also voted against segmenting the plan, which means that if the board agrees to put a tax levy for the project on the November ballot, residents would vote on funding the entire plan.

Though it seemed the board was in favor of segmenting at its March 8 special meeting, some board members came out in favor of working on the project at once. Originally, the board had discussed funding and working on the elementary schools first then waiting to fund and work on Athens Middle School and the high school.

“I’m not really for the segmenting 'cause that, to me, will ask us to go to the voters twice, and that will delay the work on the high school and the middle school,” board member Roger Brown said. “I don’t think we need to delay those things right now.” 

Board member Paul Grippa said he wanted people to have more than one opportunity to vote and address the issues with the current elementary school configuration. Board member Kim Goldsberry agreed she wanted to address those issues but wants to address the high school at the same time. 

The board also discussed the difference in costs of working on the entire plan at once versus segmenting.

Superintendent Thomas Gibbs said the costs of the total project is expected to be about $80 million to $90 million, about $60 million of which would come from the district. Gibbs said it would cost taxpayers less money if the board approved to do the plan all at once instead of segmenting.

The board voted 3-2 to not segment the plan and to instead work on the plan all at once. The board will need four of the board members to vote in favor of placing the tax levy on the November ballot, though. 

Gibbs said he understood that board members would support the majority’s decision on either segmenting or not when the board votes on the tax levy in the next few months.

The board will next meet on April 19 for its regular board meeting. 

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mc987015@ohio.edu

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