Tallmadge Superintendent Jeff Ferguson says "a nine-month design phase is the goal" for the district's new school buildings. "By this time next year we'll be looking at construction," he told members of the Board of Education at its February meeting. If all goes well, Ferguson said two new buildings -- one for kindergarten through grade five and the other for grades six through eight -- will be ready to welcome students when the 2019-20 school year commences.

The Tallmadge City School District and the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission have selected North Canton-based Sol Harris/Day Architecture to design the district's new school buildings. Final interviews for a construction manager for the project are scheduled for March 23, says Steve Wood, the district's chief operating officer.

District officials officially rolled out the welcome mat to the architects with a tour of the city on Feb 16. A school bus with a team from Tallmadge travelled to Sol Harris Day headquarters in North Canton. After touring the offices, the group, including six architects from SHD, traveled back to Tallmadge where they were joined by city representatives at the Historic Church on Tallmadge Circle. Welcoming the group were Mayor Dave Kline, Finance Director Mollie Gilbride, Administration Director Don Cooper, Fire Chief Mike Passarelli, Police Chief Ron Williams, Economic Development Director Rita Weinberg, Director of Public Service Brian Esler and Adam Paul, Planning & Zoning. The group toured the Historic Tallmadge Church and Old Town Hall while learning the history of Tallmadge.

The architects then traveled to each of the school buildings where they completed tours while meeting staff and students. "We want them to really meet the teachers and the kids and the students that they're going to be designing this building for and then have the opportunity to hit the ground running," Tallmadge Superintendent Jeff Ferguson told members of the Board of Education Feb. 15.

After the tour of the city, the architects toured each of the school buildings. During the tours, they met with teachers and staff to learn what was important to them to have in the new buildings.

"I'd like to thank the city of Tallmadge and the Tallmadge City Schools for taking the time to show us around the city and school buildings," said Domenic Ferrante, AIA partner, Sol Harris Day Architecture. "The tours, along with the recent visioning session, have given us a clear direction on how the new buildings should be designed and function to support teaching and learning for years to come."

In the November 2016 General Election, voters approved a 3.9-mill academic bond issue to consolidate three elementary schools into two buildings on the middle school campus and a 0.9 mill-athletics bond issue to move the athletic facilities from the middle school campus to the high school campus. Sol Harris/Day will design two buildings, one for kindergarten through grade five and the other for grades six through eight, which will be constructed on the current middle school campus. The Ohio School Facilities Commission has agreed to pay 31 percent or $14 million of that $45 million cost. The school district will raise its share of the expense -- $31 million -- through the 3.9-mill academic bond issue.