City and school board agree to land exchange

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On Aug. 18, the London Board of Education approved the terms of a land exchange with the City of London.

The school district will exchange its downtown campus property for approximately 50 city-owned acres located on State Route 38 across from the elementary school and high school.

The district plans to build a new middle school for grades five through eight on the city’s land. The city is looking at consolidating its offices on the downtown property, located north and east of the intersection of Walnut and First streets.

According to the terms of the agreement, the city will convey the land on Route 38 to the school board on or before Nov. 1 of this year. The city will retain roughly five acres of the parcel in case growth in the area necessitates a satellite police, fire or EMS station, explained Stan Kavy, leader of council’s land exchange committee.

The school board will convey the downtown campus property to the city on or before Sept. 1, 2009, which will allow time for the district to tear down the old elementary school.

Starting Sept. 1, 2009, the school board will lease the campus from the city for $100,000 a year while the new middle school is being built.The school district will be responsible for all maintenance and utilities. The middle school should be completed by 2011.

Starting in September 2011, the lease will go to a month-by-month set-up at $8,333 per month until the school district vacates the main buildings. After that, the school district will pay $1 per square foot per year to lease any buildings they are still using. Those likely will include the bus garage, administration building and London Academy building.

Kavy said the city will put all of the school district’s lease payments into a special fund for use on the downtown site. It could be used to tear down the current middle school to make room for a new fire station, he said, leaving the primary school to be used for city offices.

Renovations or construction on the site would require a bond levy passed by taxpayers, said Mayor Dave Eades, who sees the land exchange as a “win-win” but is worried about the city’s need for operating money now for the buildings it already has.

Regarding the new middle school, school board President Nancy Smith said, “With this new building, London should be set for quite a few years as far as school buildings go. It’s definitely a plus for us and for the city, too, because these are the city’s children, too.”

The middle school project is part of the second phase of the school district’s facilities plan. The money to cover the cost of the second phase, estimated at $25 million, will come from the state through the Ohio School Facilities Commission.

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