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Frazier moving ahead with new school

| Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 7:55 a.m.

Five Frazier School Board members are willing to continue with a building construction project that would combine the district's elementary and middle school buildings, even if the cost goes above the planned $20 million budget.

Three members, however, are not so willing.

Directors Stacey Erdely, Brian Secrest, Thomas Shetterly, David Simmons and Deborah Vargo Aleksa are in favor of spending whatever is needed for the school. Directors John Strickler, Vicki Olexa and John Sturdis were not willing to make such a commitment. The three said they want a more exact cost. Director Lisa Strickler was absent from the meeting.

Shetterly said the process of looking into building a school began in 1998. At that time, the cost was estimated at $8 million and $9 million.

In June, board members agreed to commit to a $20 million bond issue for construction of an elementary/middle school building that would house pre-kindergarten to eighth grade.

While district officials and board members originally looked into renovating Perry Elementary, a 40- to 50-year-old building, and adding on to the middle school, they decided on a new building.

The plan is for the middle school, which is attached to the high school, to be abandoned for student use. Perry Elementary would be demolished, and Central Elementary would be closed. The new building would be constructed at the Perry Elementary site at the current practice fields.

Last week, Dan Kiefer of Massaro, the district's project manager, told directors that the total cost of the project is estimated at $27 million.

Dave Esposito of the district's architectural firm said $20 million was a number that was politically palatable, and at the time, the board was considering renovations rather than new construction.

Residents voiced their opinions for more than an hour, and were overwhelmingly in favor of moving forward with a new building, citing an increase in property value as well as concerns about their children's health in the current facilities.

Business manager Kevin Mildren said that based on a $100,000 assessed property value, taxes would increase $50 a year for seven years on a $20 million loan, or $66 a year for seven years on a $25 million loan.

Erdely stressed that the extra $16 a year for seven years was for an assessed value of $100,000, but a significant number of homes in the district are assessed at less than $100,000.

With the majority of board members voicing their desire to move forward, Shetterly, board president, directed the district's architects and project managers to move forward with the project.

Rachel Basinger is a freelance writer.

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