London City Schools hires construction liaison

John N. Cornette, London City Schools’ new construction liaison, comes highly recommended.

Superintendent Steve Allen said one of Cornette’s references, the superintendent of Eastland-Fairfield Career and Technical Schools in Groveport, deemed the Gahanna resident “the best hire he had ever made.”

That’s good news, Allen said, as Cornette spent six years in the vocational district coordinating special projects, including several renovation and construction projects.

“He knows how to add on and renovate,” said Allen.

That’s exactly what Cornette will oversee as London City Schools starts the second phase of its facilities improvement plan. Next year, the district is slated to start construction of a new middle school and more renovations at the high school. Cornette will keep watch over the day-to-day progress, serving as a line of communication between district officials and the architects and general contractors.

Cornette is a retired school administrator and teacher; he spent nearly his entire 31-year career with Hamilton Local Schools in Columbus. He started as a high school and middle school teacher, became assistant principal then principal of Hamilton Middle School, then shifted to assistant superintendent and finally superintendent of the district.

On Dec. 15, the London Board of Education approved a contract to hire Cornette as a part-time employee. He will earn $45,000 a year and receive retirement but no other benefits. His term of employment is set to start on Feb. 1, 2009, and end Dec. 31, 2011. Allen said Cornette plans to get a head start, albeit off the clock, by attending facility-related meetings in January.

Allen updated the school board on the construction project timeline. He received word on Dec. 16 that the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) has given final approval to the district’s revised master plan. The next step, he said, involves choosing a construction management company. OSFC will provide the district with a short list of possibilities; company representatives then will talk with school officials and tour the sites.

Allen also said the district will hire legal counsel for the construction process. Bricker and Eckler served in that capacity during the construction of London’s new elementary school. Allen also said that at their January meeting, board members should officially reaffirm their commitment to keeping Steed, Hammond and Paul on as the architects.

“As early as February, we’ll start talking with staff and the community for input on the design (of the new middle school),” Allen said.
Because the school will be built with state money, the district won’t have endless design choices, but will get to choose from among some templates provided by OSFC. For example, the school could be organized traditionally, with long hallways and grades separated by floors. Another option is to group the grade levels in pods around central shared spaces, like the cafeteria and gym.

As for funding, Allen said, “The project agreement should be ready for the school board to sign in February. It serves as a contract with OSFC, after which the money starts to flow.”

The school district’s land deal with the City of London is nearly complete. The piece left to be done is a legal description of the district’s downtown property, which will become city property in exchange for land for the middle school owned by the city on Route 38 across from the high school and elementary.

Allen said that eight deeds, some dating back to 1865, make up the collage of properties that is the downtown school campus. The research has been interesting, he said, because the old deeds are handwritten on oversized paper.

Web site
In other business, the board heard from Patrick Dunkley of 3D Enterprises, a London company that is redesigning the school district’s Web site.

So far, 3D has reorganized the information on the site to make it easier for parents to find the information they need and bypass information they don’t need. The company has done this by grouping information into four categories, one for the district in general and one each for the three schools—high school, middle school and elementary.

Each of the school sections will have its own calendar, news, lunch menu, photo gallery, faculty directory, contact information, and handbook and form downloads, among other features.

The district portion of the Web site will include job opportunities, school board information, enrollment details, a staff directory, calendar and more.

Red Raider graphics created by a local artist will tie the site together aesthetically., said Dunkley, who plans to attend the board’s next meeting with another update on the site’s progress. Allen said he hopes the site will be ready to go live in the spring.
Board member Curtis Brooks asked who will maintain the site. Dunkley said the administrative offices and each school building likely will designate one person to collect information to forward to 3D, which in turn will post the information to the site.

London Middle School will offer baseball and softball as official school sports for seventh- and eighth-graders starting this coming spring.

At the start of the board meeting, resident Rodney Lauer commended the athletic department for proposing the enhancement to the school’s sports offerings. He also noted, however, that the elementary school is still without an art teacher and guidance counselor, positions that were addressed in the levy campaign of a few years ago, he said. He suggested that the board consider foregoing smaller improvements until bigger priorities are met.

Graduation requirements
The board held a first reading on a policy change that requires students to complete 10 hours of community service as one of  their graduation requirements.

Next meeting
The board will hold its annual organiza-tional meeting at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 12 in the high school lecture hall. Nancy Smith will serve as president pro-temps until the board elects a new president. A budget hearing and regular meeting will follow.

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