The Athens City School District Board of Education came to an unofficial decision on “option four” during its special meeting at Athens High School on Thursday.
At its regular board meeting in February, members struggled to come to an official decision on "option four" because they could not decide where to place sixth grade students in the facilities. During the special board meeting, members compromised by putting the sixth grade as part of The Plains Elementary instead of part of the Athens Middle School.
Though board members could not legally vote at the special meeting, the board has placed the issue of the sixth grade as a resolution on the agenda of its next regular meeting in two weeks.
At the end of the special meeting, board member Rusty Rittenhouse said in his mind, the issue has been “put to bed.”
Rittenhouse made it clear to the board at the beginning of the discussion that he was in favor of moving the sixth grade to The Plains for safety reasons.
“One of these proposals is safe,” Rittenhouse said during his comparison of the sixth grade at The Plains versus the middle school. “The other is dangerous.”
He referenced an email he received from Superintendent Thomas Gibbs in March 2016 about a student being hit by a car outside of the middle school as an example of his safety concerns. He said having more students at that location makes it more likely that something similar would happen again.
The plans presented by Tony Schorr of Schorr Architects, Inc. showed that it would not be possible to create a parent drop-off at Athens Middle School, but it would be possible to have a parent drop-off at The Plains location.
The Plains location would be able to accommodate the sixth grade after a renovation of the main building and an addition. Those renovations, as well as the process of building two new buildings for pre-K to third-grade buildings, would most likely be part of the first phase of that master plan.
If members approve the first phase at the regular meeting, residents would vote on it as a bond issue. Segmenting the project will be another resolution on the board's agenda in two weeks.
Segmenting the master plan would mean that the district would work on building the new pre-K to third-grade buildings and renovating The Plains first before doing major work to the middle school or Athens High School.
The costs of each phase could not be confirmed at the meeting because new estimates have to made based on predicted interests at the times the district decides to work on the projects.