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Freeport debates middle school site

| Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, 1:12 a.m.

The Freeport Area School Board debated where to place the proposed middle school Wednesday night, gearing up for a public hearing on the $30 million building project next week.

Committee members informally decided a spot more than 200 yards from the current high school.

This option, which was one of two discussed last night, will be presented to the public during a public hearing Monday at the high school.

The other option would have placed the middle school about 70 feet from the high school. When facing the front of the high school, the new middle school would be to the back left in either option.

The favored option costs about $300,000 more because it requires two long driveways to connect the middle school to the high school parking lot and exits to roads. It could also cost more to maintain because there would be more lawn area.

But the board has the option of making the building one or two stories in the farther location.

Four of the five board members present Wednesday chose the farther location because it would allow the district to build a new high school next to the middle school in the future.

Director Barbara Toy-Gaydos said favors locating the middle school in the far corner of the property.

“We utilize that land better and have more open access to it,” she said.

With the closer location, if a new high school is built in the future it will have to be accessed across a ravine. That would require building a bridge.

But board member Christine Davies said she is concerned about other costs, like adding more teachers.

It would be about a 10-minute walk from the high school to the middle school, making sharing teachers more difficult.

“We can save money on our staffing, we can save money on everything by having that building closer,” she said.

Superintendent Chris DeVivo acknowledged that it would make class schedules more difficult, but that it was feasible. He favors the farther location.

“The flexibility of the property is increased,” he said. “... We can't bind future boards.”

Kate Wilcox is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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