WOODSFIELD- Hundreds of parents, students, teachers and school officials were on hand for a ribbon-cutting event at the new Woodsfield Elementary and Monroe Central High School complex in Woodsfield Sunday afternoon.
The elementary school opened in August of this year, and the high school students-blended from the former Woodsfield and Skyvue high schools-moved in during mid October.
"It's bigger-this school has two floors. The old school had just one level, and there were only a couple of turns in the hallways," fifth-grader Sam O'Brien said, comparing the new facility to the old Woodsfield Elementary.
SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times
Parents and school officials exit the new Woodsfield Elementary School during ceremonies celebrating the opening of that facility and a ribbon-cutting at the new Monroe Central High School in Woodsfield Sunday afternoon.
Fellow fifth-grader Hunter Comstock said the new school is "amazing."
"This school is awesome," he said. "Especially the gym. But we have to check our shoes for dirt and gravel before we can go out onto the floor."
As for the new Monroe Central High School, it's a big improvement over the modular classrooms where junior Anna Turner, 16, and her peers had been housed at the Swiss Hill Career Center since entering high school.
At a glance
- The new Woodsfield Elementary School opened to students in August, and students moved into the new Monroe Central High School in mid October of this year.
- The two Lewisville Road facilities house about 650 students.
- Total cost for both schools is approximately $30 million.
- The Woodsfield schools are among six being built or remodeled in the Switzerland of Ohio Local School District for $89 million.
- The facilities are being funded 63 percent by the Ohio School Facilities Commission, and 37 percent from a local construction levy.
"This new school is a dream come true-I really like it," she said. "The modular rooms were a little stressful at times, and there were holes in the walls."
A Monroe Central cheerleader, Turner said having a gymnasium in the same building as the high school is a big plus.
"We used to have practice at Skyvue Elementary, which was about 30 minutes away from the career center," she said.
The elementary and high schools were built at a cost of about $30 million, part of an $89 million project that will ultimately result in the construction of five new school buildings and the renovation of a sixth within the widespread Switzerland of Ohio Local Schools District.
"Geographically we're the largest school district in the state, covering an area of 546 square miles, and we serve a total of around 2,500 students," said Superintendent of Schools Larry Elliott, who's served the district for 34 years.
He said the district was overdue for new school facilities, and it was a real team effort that resulted in the construction of not just one, but five new buildings in the district, including Beallsville High School (which will become a kindergarten through 12th grade facility), Powhatan Elementary, and Skyvue Elementary, as well as Monroe Central High and Woodsfield Elementary schools.
River High School will be renovated and a new kindergarten through eighth-grade section added there.
The projects are being 63 percent funded by the Ohio School Facilities Commission and 37 percent funded through a local school building levy that was passed by district voters in 2009.
But it wasn't an easy sell, according to district treasurer Lance Erlwein.
"The levy was put before the voters at least four or five times before it passed," he said. "And the plans had to be restructured several times. Every area within the district was in need of a facility."
Elliott said the construction levy campaign was based on three legs.
"First it was for the communities, to help rebuild the educational infrastructure," he said.
The second leg was a project labor agreement in which 50 percent of the construction workforce had to be from counties within the school district, including Monroe, Noble, and Belmont counties.
"And the third leg was that these facilities were truly needed by our students," Elliott said. "The previous Monroe Central High School classrooms were modulars in the middle of the career center parking lot."
Former Skyvue and Woodsfield high school principal Paul King, 80, said the new facilities have been a long time coming.
"When I came to the district in the 1960s, the superintendent at that time said 'your kids will be graduating from a new school.' But that didn't happen," King said. "Even my grandkids have not graduated from a new school-my grandson just graduated from the old school last year."
He said it's good to finally see new schools being built in the district.
"It's great, but we couldn't have done this until the state (school facilities commission) became involved," King added.
Erlwein noted that the district is asking voters to approve another levy that's on the 2012 election ballot.
"I think people are somewhat confused about this one," he said. "But this will be a 4.5-mill PI (permanent improvement) levy to pay for buses, books, technology and improvements to the Swiss Hills Career Center campus."
The permanent improvement levy had been in effect for 15 years, but was voted down last year, Erlwein said.
"And this is an exact replica of that same levy," he said.
The levy would cost an estimated $76.56 annually for the owner of a home assessed at $100,000.