The incoming and outgoing were among the topics of discussion at the Big Walnut Board of Education Meeting on Thursday, July 19.
The incoming concerned the new schools to be built in the district, as well as the recently announced Planet Oasis development. The outgoing was a board member — Allison Fagan — who is stepping down at the end of the month.
For the first time, drawings were shown of what the district’s new high school and elementary school, located on the same just-purchased site, might look like. Doug Swartz, director of facilities, stressed that the drawings are preliminary and conceptual in nature.
“The District’s School Planning teams in concert with our Consultants (as led by VSWC Architects and the CMR firm of Gilbane Building Company) as well as the BOE appointed Facilities Committee and other community member input, are still in what is referred to as the Schematic Design (SD) Phase,” Swartz said in an email following the meeting.
Chris Dumsford, of VSWC Architects, said the main entry of the high school would have an image of an eagle over the door, with the dining commons leading to an academic commons. There is an open courtyard that could be expanded in the future if additional dining area is needed.
Also on the first floor of the high school would be a gym and field house, along with a library, an auditorium and lab classrooms. The second and third floors would have more classrooms.
The elementary, which would be built first, appears T-shaped with an open space for students between the classrooms and the library.
Questions included adding a balcony for the auditorium and subterranean space to hide in the event of a tornado. Dumsford said the costs to do either would exceed the district’s budget, and the buildings were designed to withstand a direct hit from a tornado.
Three people spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, each concerned with the amount of traffic that may come to Miller Drive as a result of the schools, resulting in backups at the traffic light.
“We’ve tried to do things that are consistent with the village’s (Sunbury) Master Transportation Plan,” said board President Andy Wecker.
Planet Oasis, a proposed sports/wellness resort planned for Berkshire Township, was also discussed.
“We have no reason to expect a big windfall” from the development, said Superintendent Angie Pollock. She said the district does not get sales tax, and it would only get tax revenue from Planet Oasis employees who lived in Delaware County. In addition, the district may receive less revenue if an abatement package were to be part of the development.
Board member Brad Schneider said Planet Oasis would be built in multiple stages over several years, with future stages dependent on the success of the previous stages, meaning it may not become as large as it was initially announced.
Fagan was celebrated at her last school board meeting. She is leaving to care for an ailing family member.
“You’ve been a pillar of the community,” said board member Mindy Meyer.
“You are an advocate for all children,” Pollock said.
“You are really direct — that’s one of your many virtues,” Wecker said.
“I’ve learned so much from her, what it takes to be a good public servant,” Schneider said.
“This has been an honor and a privilege,” Fagan said. “I am proud of the decisions I have made for all of the students. I have grown in this seat. It is enormously humbling to see your name on the ballot. I want to thank the community for being elected three times.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.