With a full agenda, the Chillicothe R-II School Board met Tuesday. The meeting opened with descriptions about the programs at the Transition to Life Center (TLC) and Grand River Technical School, from students and staff. Then outgoing school board members were recognized for their service to the school.
School board members and Superintendent Roger Barnes thanked Brent Turner, Robin Quinn and Ron Wolf for their service on the school board and presented each with plaques. Turner was also presented with a special plaque for his service as School Board President.
Turner served on the school board form 2012-2019 and was chairman of the board for the last two years. Quinn served on the board for six years starting in 2013; and Wolf helped fulfill the seat of a former board member.
Following the approval of results from the April 2 elections, the three new board members Bill Hayen, Clint Williams and Brice Walker were then sworn in. Hayen and Williams will serve three year terms and Walker will serve one year.
The first order of business for the new board included electing officers, the new School Board President is Lauren Horsman, Vice President is Lindy Chapman, Treasurer is Paul Thomas and Secretary is Laura Schuler.
The board heard a presentation from the Chillicothe Development corporation's Steve Franke City in regards to Central School. Franks noted the Hamilton Group out of Springfield is very interested in the property and would like to make a bid with the ultimate intention of turning the old school into market rate apartments. Their plan includes investing $5-7 million in the current building.
“This can would make that part of the community more viable,” he said.
Main Street Chillicothe Board member Darin Chappell noted that there is a lack of mid-rate rental housing in the community and said this pal would help fill that void.
“There is clearly a lack of available mid-rate rentals in the city,” he said. “And this development - the apartment would be such and would help attract the type of demographic we are wanting to attract to our area. It would be a good draw for businesses in the area and those possibly looking at coming to Chillicothe.”
Chappell did note that the Hamilton Group would seek a tax abatement for the property, but stressed that there has been no taxes collected off of the property for decades and there would be tax revenue off of the property in the future should be it be sold.
Franke asked the board to consider making a decision soon about the property as it would be 2020 before construction could begin, should they chose to sell it and the interested party win the bid.
Superintendent Dr Roger Barnes said the district will consider the options and make a decision soon on the matter.
During the April 2 election voters struck down the school districts request for an increase in its operating levy. The increase, Barnes said was help the district with rising costs, decreasing state reimbursements and would allow the district to increase teachers pay. Voters struck down the measure 751 to 1328.
However, that only means the board will have to use reserve funds or cut students services, should an alternative funding source not be established. The board discussed when, if and how to bring the matter back to the voters, as cost will continue to rise and state funding is uncertain.
A may 9, special school board meeting will discuss the levy issue and other things before the board. If the board chooses to take the issue before voters in August they have to make the decision and file ballot language by mid-May.