TALLMADGE—The cold, blustery weather did not stop more the more than 50 Tallmadge residents, teachers, administrators and architects from celebrating the official groundbreaking for the Tallmadge City School District’s new elementary school and middle school Thursday.

In a bit of a twist to the traditional groundbreaking ceremonies, groups of people were invited to hold the ceremonial shovels near a patch of fresh dirt. Steve Wood, the chief operating officer for the school district, said the photos taken would be made into a collage, which would then be made into a poster to commemorate the event.

Board president Rick Kellar said that the event was “very exciting.”

“I’m excited the city of Tallmadge believes in our district and the education of our children,” Kellar said. 

Krista McCourtnie, a sixth-grade teacher with the district, came with her mother Robin Reich and her two children, James, 4, and Colton, 1.

“It almost brought tears to my eyes,” McCourtnie said of the groundbreaking. “Seeing how I graduated from there, and these two will be going to the new facilities.”

“We’re just so excited to have this,” Reich said. “It’s so big. To think, they will be able to go to the new school.”

Alex Wagner, 13, a seventh-grader, said having the new schools was “a pretty good idea.”

“I’m excited for what it’s going to look like, even if we never get to be in it,” Alex said.

Timeline

In November 2016, voters in the Tallmadge City School district passed two bond issues. One bond issue was was for .9-mills, for the construction of a new high school stadium. The second was a 3.9-mill bond issue to construct two new school buildings and to relocate the athletic facilities to the high school campus.

The elementary school, which will educate the district's kindergarten through fifth-grade classes, and the middle school, for the district's sixth through eighth grade students, are scheduled to open for the 2019-20 school year.

"I think as we engaged the community two years before the bond issue, we educated the community on how to best educate our kids," said Superintendent Jeff Ferguson.

Currently, the district's schools include Dunbar Primary School for kindergarten through second grade; Munroe Elementary School for third through fifth grade, Tallmadge Middle School, for sixth through eighth grade, and Tallmadge High School, for ninth through 12th grade. The new elementary school building will combine the students currently at Dunbar and Munroe into one building.

The two current buildings for the younger students were constructed in 1949 and the early 50s, Ferguson said.

One advantage for the new construction is that there will be two school campuses, "the K through 8, and the nine through 12, separated by a quarter mile," Ferguson said.

"This is the best way to educate our kids in the 21st century," Ferguson said. "Also, the consolidations will be more cost effective."

The cost of constructing the two schools is estimated at about $45 million, Ferguson said. The bond issue will raise $31 million, and the remaining $14 million will come from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission.

Site work for the athletic facilities is scheduled to begin in spring 2018, with the softball field opening in spring 2019, practice fields opening in summer 2019 and a new stadium opening in fall 2019.

Munroe Elementary will be bulldozed, and the land will be incorporated into the high school campus and make up the athletic fields, Ferguson said. The middle school will be bulldozed as well. The administration plans to sell Dunbar, he added.

ahelms@recordpub.com

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