CAMDEN — Preble Shawnee Board of Education members voted to approve an additional $5 million in expenditures for renovations to the district’s Junior and Senior High School facilities during their monthly meeting Thursday, April 9.
The meeting was broadcast live via the district’s YouTube channel to allow residents to attend remotely, in accordance with current public gathering restrictions put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The board approved an initial $1.4 million in expenditures during a special meeting held March 25, which was also broadcast online. Those funds will cover the purchase of boilers, transformers, air ventilators and other equipment needed to complete the renovations. The funds approved April 9, meanwhile, will pay for upgrades to the facility’s lighting, electrical, HVAC, hot water, fire suppression, and security systems, as well as new tiles for the building’s ceiling.
These improvements are necessary in order to keep the facility viable, according to Superintendent Matt Bishop.
“We asked ourselves, what are the most important things we can do to this building?” Bishop said. “This is going to make the junior and senior high a safe, secure, and conducive learning environment for many years to come.”
Board member Gary Rader said the $6.4 million price tag represents a good value given the scope of the work involved.
“I think it’s amazing the bang we’re getting for our buck, considering everything that we’re doing,” Rader said.
Board member Charlie Biggs expressed similar sentiments.
“I think our efforts have been worth every penny,” Biggs said.
“Some have said, ‘You could throw in some air conditioning for a lot less,’” Bishop said. “But that’s not the kind of improvement we want to make to a building that we want to have standing for decades.”
The board plans to start the renovations as soon as school is out for the summer, according to Bishop. The hope is to have all renovations completed by the time school resumes in late August.
“We’d like to get in there over the summer and get this done and over with,” Bishop said.
In addition to the Junior and Senior High renovations, the board voted unanimously to move forward with plans for a new K-5 school building late last year. The new facility will be constructed on the same property as the district’s current K-5 building in Camden, which will then be demolished. Approximately 600 elementary school students from Gratis and West Elkton will be bused in to attend school at the new facility.
The 3.75-mill property tax levy needed to fund the school district’s portion of costs for the new building will appear on the ballot April 28. Approximately 66 percent of the base cost of the facility will be funded by state dollars.. If approved, the levy would tax property owners in the district at a rate of $3.75 per $1,000 of assessed property value over a period of 25 years.
A proposed income tax levy, meanwhile, would tax residents at a rate of approximately 75 cents for every $100 of annual income over a period of five years. Proceeds from this levy would fund the general operating costs of the district.
Bishop stressed that both measures remain vital to the school district’s future.
“If the bond issue doesn’t pass, we’re still going to have to come to some solution that brings us down to one elementary school building,” Bishop said. “The only alternative to a new facility is to get us all into one spot, and do what we can to improve that facility with the tax dollars that we have available to us.”
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @improperenglish