CAMDEN — Two new school buildings could be going up in the next several years in the Preble Shawnee Local School District as part of the Ohio School Facilities Commission Classroom Facilities Assistance Program — if voters in the district pass a bond issue this November.
The Preble Shawnee Local Board of Education passed a resolution to move forward with the construction project at its May meeting.
The board voted 4-1 in favor, with Charlie Biggs casting the lone “no” vote.
“In working with the OFCC they have determined that both Camden and the junior/senior high building both exceed the two-thirds threshold where they decide whether or not a building is viable to build new as opposed to renovating,” Preble Shawnee Superintendent David Ulrich said. “Since we have exceeded that threshold they have given the board the recommendation to go ahead and replace the buildings.”
The local share of the project will be 35 percent or around $15.8 million. The total cost of the project is estimated at just over $45 million.
The board plans to have several community meetings to discuss the project and get input.
School officials say residents in the district would still be paying the same amount of taxes as they were in 2015 should the issue pass.
Originally, the plan called for demolition of part of Camden Primary School and adding on to the newest addition, and renovation of the middle/high high school. The local share would have been 37 percent.
“It’s a better offer,” board member Jeff Wood said. “This is a chance for once to build two new buildings. This will be the first time to do it right. There will be no shortcuts. It will be done right.”
The new plan, with the blessing of the OSFC, is to build a new junior/senior high school at the current location and a new elementary school in Camden.
The old buildings would eventually be torn down.
The OSFC says it is more cost-effective to build two new buildings based on recent findings regarding the buildings’ structures and repairs that would be needed, rather than renovate.
The new elementary school would house students in PK-5 and the middle/high school would house students in grades 6-12, plus career-tech, and be built to estimated enrollment.
“We are kind of ironing out some things still,” board president Candi Turpin said. “It’s exciting times. It really is. Give us some time to iron this stuff out.”
Ulrich said when he first proposed this to the board three years ago he never thought it would get to this point.
“It is very rare for the OSFC to make this kind of change this late in the game, as far as new as opposed to renovating,” Ulrich said.
Board member Gary Rader said it’s a great opportunity.
“It’s exciting. We’ve got the opportunity to have two brand new schools and have something to be proud of as a community,” Rader said. “The kids have something to be proud of. It’s a neat situation.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH