Madison-Plains officials choose architectural firm

The Madison-Plains Board of Education  has chosen an architect but that doesn’t mean they’ve made any other decisions about future construction projects, said Scott Hiles, district treasurer.

“We’re at the very, very beginning,” he said, regarding the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) process.

Through OSFC, school districts are ranked based on their financial wealth. The ranking determines when districts are eligible to receive state funding for construction and/or renovation. When their turn comes, a district can sign up to receive state funding for part of a construction project. Local tax dollars cover the rest. One OSFC program allows districts to jump ahead in line if they agree to front the entire cost of the project.

About seven years ago, Madison-Plains tried to pass levies to jump ahead in line. The attempts failed. Now, the district’s scheduled turn on the OSFC list is approaching; their window is 2009 to 2012. They want to be ready, Hiles said, if the community supports it.
“We’re trying to be proactive. A lot of school districts wait until they get the call from OSFC, then they have to scramble. We’re just trying to get a few months ahead.”

The district expects to hear from OSFC in February or March, after which they need to decide if they want to go forward with an OSFC project. If they do, they will have one year from July 2009 to get a levy passed for their local share, which would be 64 percent. The state would cover 36 percent.

The decision to move forward will depend entirely on community input, Hiles said.
“We are nowhere near designing a building or selecting a site. We’re not doing anything unless the community is behind us. We want direction from them,” he said.

SHP Leading Design, Madison-Plains’ choice for an architect, will organize a series of public meetings to explain the OSFC process and collect community input. The first meeting could be as early as January, Hiles said.

SHP was one of three architectural firms the school board interviewed earlier this month. MKC Associates and McDon-ald, Cassell and Bassett were the other two. The board and administrators were most impressed by SHP, who they will officially hire at their January meeting, Hiles said.

“They’re one of the bigger names in school construction, as far as architects go, in the state,” he said.

SHP has handled London City Schools’ OSFC projects over the last several years. They also have done work in other area school districts, including Marysville, Miami Trace and Teays Valley.

If the community wants to move forward with a building project, then SHP will help district officials decide which OSFC program will provide the “biggest bang for the buck,” Hiles said. Representatives of OSFC’s Classroom Facilities Act program were scheduled to conduct an assessment of the district’s buildings Dec. 21-23. A similar assessment was made several weeks ago by represen-tatives of OSFC’s Exceptional Needs program.

In other business, the school board accepted the following donations:
• $100 from Mount Sterling American Legion 417 for the high school band;
• $3,020 from the Ohio State Eagles Charity for the Madison Rural Principal’s Account;
• and $1,000 worth of plexiglass and glass cutting tools from Mrs. A.J. Baird for the district in general.

The board will hold its annual organizational meeting at 7 p.m. Jan. 6 at Mount Sterling Elementary, followed by their regular monthly meeting.

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