Staff Writer

With Liberty-Benton voters having approved a levy to fund building construction and renovation, the school board approved an initial agreement with the state at a special meeting on Tuesday.

Last week, a 35-year, 7.3-mill bond issue to build a new pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade building and renovate the high school passed by about 67 percent to 33 percent.

The resolution passed by the board means Liberty-Benton will be on the agenda for the July meeting of the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, and the district should receive its state money then, said Josh Predovich, a project manager with SHP Leading Design.

After that, the OFCC will assign a project manager, Predovich said. Meetings with the OFCC will follow.

The district and the OFCC will jointly choose an architect in September or October, Predovich said. That could be SHP, but it doesn’t have to be.

“We did the master planning with you, but that’s no guarantee to any of us in this room that we’re going to get to continue to work together,” Predovich said.

The resolution included updated figures for the state and local shares of the project.

The co-funded portion — for which the state pays 57 percent and Liberty-Benton pays 43 percent — totals $37,086,983, with the state paying $21,139,580 and Liberty-Benton paying $15,947,403.

Locally-funded initiatives, such as the auditorium that the district must pay for on its own, total $3,276,052, for a total cost of $40,363,035.

This is lower than a previously estimated total of $45,576,101 because the actual inflation and increases in the costs of materials were less than that estimate allowed for.

The project scope includes an “allowance to abate and demolish” the current elementary/middle school building, but that doesn’t mean the district must do that.

The district can wait until “about the last year of construction” to make a decision on that building, Predovich said.

“We’ve got a long road to go. We’re a while before we even put a shovel in the ground,” board President A.J. Granger said at the beginning of the meeting. “Probably, what, three years before” the project is done.

In other business, the board approved a three-year contract for Kyle Leatherman as the new middle school principal. He lives in the Liberty-Benton district and is currently the Bluffton Middle School principal.

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