The latest obstacle in the long-awaited Switzerland of Ohio Local Schools construction project is a bid package for the renovated and expanded River High School that came in over budget.
That comes on the heels of the Monroe County school district being faced with a choice of whether to build a scaled-down Skyvue Elementary or renovate the existing building after changes in enrollment projections.
Voters in the Switzerland of Ohio district in 2010 approved a 28-year, 7.69-mill bond issue and permanent improvement levy to fund the local share of an $88 million project with the Ohio School Facilities Commission to build six new schools and renovate River. The project was put together especially for the district based on its geography and one-time ranking as having the worst facilities in the state.
The River project has already seen one significant change after estimates to build a new school to house students at the existing Hannibal and Sardis elementaries came in $1 million over budget. The decision was made to convert River High School to a K-12 building.
Switzerland school board Vice President Edward Carleton said Monday that he expects the cost to be reduced by working with the low bidders to make adjustments on the project. He said he does not expect that to have a major impact on the project.
"We don't have time to rebid as far as I know," he said. "I don't think we can get any more (money)."
Carleton did not have available the amount by which the bids were over. A call to the OSFC was not returned Monday afternoon.
District residents were hoping for additional money once it was learned a new Skyvue Elementary School would be smaller than originally planned due to new enrollment projections.
Some residents favored renovating the current school, which would be larger than the new two-story building that would replace the proposed three-story structure. But that would cost nearly $300,000 more than building new, meaning the district would be on the hook for the difference.
Residents and officials appealed to state Rep. Andy Thompson, R-Marietta, to help secure more funding, but he said Monday there aren't any options. However, a more detailed design plan could shrink the price tag from the initial estimate, he said.
"I don't have a source for the $300,000 other than to find it through the course of the design process," Thompson said.
Thompson said he does not want to see the district "hamstrung with a building that won't meet your needs."
Carleton said the board's next regular meeting is scheduled for April 19.
"There'll probably be some decisions made that night," he said.
Stafford resident Claire Thompson, 67 and no relation to the state representative, said she's frustrated by the delays and changes.
"They didn't think this thing out," she said.
Thompson, who graduated from the old Skyvue High School, said she doesn't care whether the school is built new or renovated. She just wants there to be a school and fears this may provide an opportunity for the board to close Skyvue.
"I just want to see a school built. I'm afraid that they'll try to get out of doing anything and they'll close it," she said.
Carleton said that is not being considered.