The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

May 3, 2012

Buckeye board mulls North Kingsville’s fate

ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP —  Buckeye Superintendent Nancy Williams will research the cost of razing North Kingsville Elementary and the steps the district must take before that can happen.

Williams asked the board to discuss the North Kingsville building during the board’s work session Tuesday evening. She said the village, which previously showed an interest in the building, does not appear to have the finances to take on the project. That leaves the board with finding a buyer or taking down the structure, the oldest part of which dates to 1915. The school is located along Route 20 on 7.72 acres. The board closed the school at the end of the 2011 school year as a cost-savings measure.

Williams said the first step in disposing of the property is to pass a resolution declaring the district no longer has an educational need for it. Both Williams and board member Mark Estock said they do not foresee the district re-opening the building to meet increased enrollment. A 10-year enrollment projection conducted last year determined the district will continue to lose students. Board President Jacqueline Hillyer said maintenance and renovation expenses would be prohibitive.

“Personally, when I do the numbers, the right thing is to get it off the rolls,” Estock said. Other board members agreed, with Greg Kocjancic pointing out he does not want North Kingsville to become “another eyesore” like the former Lincoln Elementary building has become.

Williams estimated  it could cost $100,000 to have the building leveled. The district still has to mow the grass on the lot. And there is the liability of the large playground, which was constructed through a major community effort years ago. Williams said Buckeye personnel periodically checks the equipment for safety issues and took steps to arrest water damage on some of the components.

The discussion ended with Williams agreeing to check with the board’s legal counsel on how to dispose of the property. She also is to get an estimate on the cost of bringing down the structure and restoring the property.

Williams suggested the board also revisit facilities in light of the voters’ rejection of a bond issue that would have built two new schools. The issue, on the November 2011 ballot, failed by a 2:1 margin.

The bond issue was for phase one of a two-phase building project that is in the district’s facilities master plan. Phase one was to build a new elementary school to replace Kingsville and a new middle school at the Edgewood High campus.

Estock talked about purchasing Ashtabula Towne Square mall, which is in foreclosure, as a way to address the district’s building needs.

“There are some interesting aspects to that,” Estock said. However, he said the purchase would fly in the face of the facilities master plan. The discussion went no further.

Rather, the board looked at ways to survey district voters on their reasons for rejecting the bond issue last year and their thoughts on what steps the board should take to address facilities needs. Williams recommended a combination of three approaches.

n Hire a company to do a scientific sampling of registered voters. The board asked the superintendent to obtain a cost estimate for that effort.

n Go door-to-door in the district and talking to voters. “That will get you a lot of the whys,” she said. “That’s the only way you can get that — what you can do differently the next, is through the (informal conversation).”

n Conduct an on-line survey.

During  the work session, the board changed its next meeting from May 16 to May 15 to avoid a conflict with school concerts. The meeting is 7 p.m. at Kingsville Elementary.

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