The district’s aged middle school was at the center of a discussion by Archbold Area Schools administrators Sept. 18 concerning a proposed building consolidation project within the next decade.
The middle school building at 304 N. Stryker St. has served the district for 87 years, and has, at most, about 11 good years left in it, said Superintendent Aaron Rex. Talks about closing it have floated since 2013, but the discussion turned official at a Board of Education meeting three weeks ago between board members, school administrators, and an architect.
And while the discussion is in its earliest stages, Rex believes the district’s middle school students could possibly be incorporated into the other school buildings by the 2023-24 school year.
The project could include an estimated $14.7 million, 64,000 square-foot addition built onto Archbold Elementary School, nearly doubling the school’s size to add grades 5 through 7. Financing the project would require a bond issue, and any state assistance would likely cover about 22 percent of the cost.
Eighth graders would be transferred to Archbold High School, which Rex said has ample space to accommodate them.
Consolidating three buildings into two would lower expenditures on heating, cooling, busing, and maintenance.
Plenty of discussion about the proposed consolidation is necessary before school administrators even consider moving forward, Rex said. “This is just a first phase of it. We’ve just had one meeting, so we’re nowhere near saying what we’re going to do,” he said.
But with the seed planted, “The plan was to come up with an initial idea of what our needs would be,” Rex said. “We want to have a plan in place to start a project in the next five to eight years. You want to get out ahead of it.”
The 1930 middle school building has received multiple additions and renovations over the years but requires constant upkeep, he said. In 2013, the building was professionally assessed and the school district was told the building would remain viable only another 10 to 15 years before capital improvements would be necessary.
Rex said because no plans have been set no definitive timeline for the proposed project can be given. He wouldn’t speculate on how much money the consolidation would save the school district annually.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.