City planners were expected to offer input on the Tallmadge City School District's construction project July 6.

Steve Wood, chief operating officer for Tallmadge City Schools, said district officials planned to attend a work session for the Planning and Zoning Commission "to begin the important dialogue." The meeting occurred past the print deadline for the July 9 Tallmadge Express.

"We want to make sure we are heading in the right direction to ensure efficiency of resources as we work towards breaking ground this fall on the academic project," Wood reported. School officials planned to make no formal submission at the session. Wood said discussion would center on possible layouts and traffic patterns.

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. The North Canton based Sol Harris/Day architecture firm 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.

Superintendent Jeff Ferguson said consolidating buildings on one campus will mean savings in terms of operational and transportation expenses. He also said the new buildings will boast state-of-the-art security, facilitate technology use and incorporate flexible classroom spaces to permit collaborative learning.

Since the middle school campus is located in a residential area and the school district has been granted conditional zoning within it, Wood said the city's Planning and Zoning Commission has "more influence" over what the school district's ultimate plan will look like. He also noted district officials' desire to continue to operate Tallmadge Middle School while the two new buildings are being constructed limits the location of the new schools on the site.

An approximate timeline for construction of the elementary and middle school buildings, provided by the Tallmadge City School District, is as follows: phased design construction from March 2017 through spring 2018; early site work, fall 2017; elementary and middle school building construction, spring 2018 through fall 2019; building openings may have to be phased, with the new middle school opening in August 2019 and the elementary school opening mid-year.

The athletic bond issue, which does not involve the OSFC, will cover a portion of the cost of moving the outdoor athletic facilities for high school sports from the middle school campus to the high school campus. What's eyed is a new stadium and baseball and softball complexes at an estimated cost between $10 million and $12 million. The bond issue will generate $7 million, which the superintendent says is enough to move all varsity athletics to the high school campus. Funding also will be sought from private donors.

Email: ewalsh@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9419

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