TALLMADGE — The fall weather so far has been kinder to the construction schedule for the new Tallmadge Elementary School, which continues to take shape near the new middle school.
"The weather here this fall has been great," said Steve Wood, chief operations officer. "We've been able to play a little bit of catch-up from all the rain we've had this spring and summer."
However, the initial plan to move in after winter break will not be feasible, Wood said.
"At this point, I don't expect the building to be turned over to us until the third week of January," Wood said. The very soonest the district would be able to move its roughly 1,000 kindergarten through fifth-graders into the new elementary school would be the second week of February. This gave everyone pause, Wood said.
"We want to move into our new building," Wood said. "But we gave ourselves a time-out and talked to our PTA families, our parents and teachers, and they all agreed 'we'd be crazy.'"
So rather than attempting the big move in what is frequently the most brutal time of the year weather-wise, the district plans to move its elementary school students from Dunbar Primary and Munroe Elementary schools to the new Tallmadge Elementary School on March 30, after the students get back from spring break.
"There's a lower risk of weather hindering our move-in," Wood said. "It just enables a smoother transition for the teachers and the kids."
Superintendent Jeff Ferguson said that he felt that "the general response was relief" to the decision to delay the move.
"It's like buying a new home," Ferguson said. "You are eager to move in, but when you sit back and think, what are the worst times to move?"
Ferguson said there would be a community open house planned for sometime in the spring "once we've settled in our new home."
Meanwhile, area residents can anticipate seeing other improvements in the near future.
"The nearest milestone is finishing the parking lots of the middle and elementary schools," Wood said. "The final parking lots will be done before the weather turns. It's coming along beautifully."
The new elementary school is being funded through the passage of a 3.9-mill bond issue in November 2016. The bond issue, which raises $31 million, also has gone to fund a new middle school, which opened at the beginning of the school year. The cost of constructing the two schools is estimated at about $45 million; the remaining $14 million will come from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission.
Voters also approved a 0.9-mill levy for constructing the new high school stadium and athletic facilities. The bond issue generated $7 million for the stadium and renovations. These facilities, which include a football/soccer stadium, practice fields and baseball and softball fields, officially opened in early September.
Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @AprilKHelms_RPC