The Archbold school district must decide the outcome of its aged middle school, but any plans for a new building using state assistance would have to wait.
The school district does not qualify for an immediate program with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, and won’t become eligible for at least two years, said Jayson Selgo, Archbold schools superintendent. But that gives the school district time to decide whether to partner with the OFCC or complete any project itself.
Following an assessment of the school district’s buildings conducted for the OFCC last fall by Garmann Miller and Associates, an engineering firm, three options for the middle school were offered: maintain or renovate the present building or build a new school. If a new middle school were constructed, the OFCC would also require the school district’s other buildings to be upgraded as part of its guidelines.
A joint project between the school district and the OFCC is currently estimated at a 70-30 split in funding, with the district assuming the majority cost. An estimated cost for the school district has not been determined.
“In the event we were looking at new construction, we would go to the community with a new levy,” Selgo said.
Discussion about Archbold Middle School began in 2014, after the school district hired SSOE Group, an engineering consultant firm in Toledo, to assess the building and its systems and offer a timeline of possible future expenses. The middle school is the oldest of the school district’s buildings, with some portions dating back to between 80 and 100 years.
The assessment concluded that some renovations might become necessary within a 10-15 year window. A steering committee was formed under former school superintendent Aaron Rex to discuss a strategy for possible improvements. But when Rex left the school district in 2018 the committee and any further discussion was set aside during the search for and appointment of a new superintendent.
Selgo said efforts to resume the steering committee are presently underway, as is examining options to either maintain or renovate the current stand-alone middle school or consider a new building. Considerations include whether to include all of the district’s school buildings on one campus.
“Do we want to look at a vision where all of the schools are on the same campus? That would be one piece of convenience,” Selgo said.
Results of the OFCC-funded assessment of the school district were presented as a preliminary master plan to Selgo and the school district’s Board of Education in January. At the time, the plan did not include the middle school, an oversight that will be corrected, Selgo said.
He said under the OFCC’s requirements Archbold schools will not qualify for state financial assistance for at least two years. That gives the school district time to review options for the middle school, which include financing renovations or a new building on its own. Under that plan, Selgo said, the district would save money by not having to comply with OFCC guidelines that also require upgrades to all of the school buildings.
“Some districts have elected to do what they do without the OFCC,” he said.
Simply maintaining the middle school would require only the school district’s permanent improvement fund, he said. Renovations or a new building project would require a levy. But before any project involving taxpayer money was approved the school district would ask for public opinion.
“We will get community feedback no matter what,” Selgo said. “If we proceeded with construction there would most certainly be community meetings before we proceed with any type of levy.”
With the extensive lead time available before possibly involving the OFCC, considerations for the middle school are still in the investigatory stage, he said. No deadline has been set.
“At this point I’m trying to put all options on the table, because I’m not sure yet what’s best for us,” Selgo said. “I’m going into it with no options. When we proceed, I want to make sure we have all the facts.”
Archbold Board of Education President Jeremy Hurst referred all questions and comments regarding the middle school to Selgo.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.