TALLMADGE -- Decisions which will affect the design of Tallmadge's new schools are underway, according to Chief Operating Officer Steve Wood.

On March 23, representatives of the school district as well as the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission and Sol Day/Harris architects are planning to choose a manager to oversee construction of its new schools. Six firms submitted applications for the job, according to Wood.

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 handle the academic undertaking, designing two buildings, one for kindergarten through grade five and the other for grades six through eight. 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.

Also on March 23, a new Facilities Steering Committee will meet for the first time at Tallmadge Middle School. The 15-member body will include teachers, all the principals of Tallmadge City Schools, the district's director of teaching and learning and the director of student services, the superintendent, Board of Education members, Mayor Dave Kline and some of his staff. "The group will get together on a routine basis to make sure the project's on track and meeting the needs of the people of Tallmadge," said Wood. While the Steering Committee meetings are not open to public/press, district officials say they plan to host open meetings to present design ideas within the next few months.

In early April a group from Tallmadge City Schools plans to visit two schools which Wood said could serve as role models for the new schools which will rise here. "West Muskingham and New Albany are two recently completed buildings recommended to us by the OSFC," Wood reports, adding, "They are prime examples of student-centered, 21st century learning spaces." Superintendent Jeff Ferguson says Tallmadge's new schools will boast state-of-the-art security, facilitate technology use and incorporate flexible classroom spaces to permit collaborative learning.

According to Wood, the Environmental Design Group has been retained to evaluate the options the district has for the layout of the new stadium and baseball and softball complexes planned for the high school site. "We want a layout that is both useful and attractive, he said, adding, "We are working towards creating a park-like complex that will serve both school and community needs."

There is no timeline for architect selection for the athletic improvement at this time, Wood says.

Email: ewalsh@recordpub.com.

Phone: 330-541-9419

Twitter: @ EllinWalsh_RPC