By Paul Chasko
Dateline: June 13, 2012
At a special meeting held this evening the Ringgold School Board New Majority voted to begin renovations on its old empty buildings in Donora and Monongahela.
For months, district residents, primarily from Nottingham and Union Townships, and board members Bill Stein and Chris Carroll pleaded with the New School Board Majority to continue to use the existing Finley Middle School until a sufficient capital reserve was built up to build a new centrally-located middle school. Instead, the board’s new majority who campaigned to reopen Donora and Monongahela schools voted 6/1 (two amembers absent) this evening to begin extensive renovations to the aged buildings in Donora and Monongahela (81 and 87 years).
To think of these two buildings as sturdy old structures is overly kind. An extensive list of renovations for each of the old buildings that is too long to list here was presented to the audience at tonight’s meeting. It includes new roofs on both buildings, completely new HVAC systems, asphalt and mold abatement, replacement of exterior windows and doors, all new plumbing, new electrical distribution, new data services and considerable structural repairs. Unfortunately, the Board failed to present line-item costs for these renovations. They only stated that all renovations were expected to cost approximately $23 million and this included some work on the Ringgold Elementary North building (Gastonville) and Ringgold High School.
The fear of some of the board members and many tax-payers in the district is that, once renovation is underway, the costs will balloon far beyond the projected $23 million. Those in construction work have said “that is the nature of renovation work.” At any rate, this work will likely deplete the district’s capital reserves and increase its debt service killing any chance of a new centrally-located middle school for many decades. Board member Bill stein asked that the vote be postponed until line item costs could be studied and overall costs compared to those of a new building. His request was denied and the motion to begin renovations was passed.
The increased operating cost due to the operation of the two buildings in the 2013-2014 school year was estimated to be $348,060 annually. This amounts to over $5 million over the expected 15 year life span of the renovated buildings.
A Building Use Reconfiguration Plan was presented by Dr. Polkabla and is summarized below.
2012-2013 School Year
Ringgold Elementary North: Grades K thru 5
Ringgold Elementary South: Grades K thru 5
Finley Middle School: Grades 6 thru 8
Ringgold High School Grades 9 thru 12
2013-2014 School Year and Beyond
Ringgold Elementary North: Grades K thru 6
Ringgold Elementary South: Grades K thru 4
Ringgold Intermediate School: (Donora Bldg.) Grades 5 and 6
Ringgold Middle School: (Monongahela Bldg.) Grades 7 and 8
Ringgold High School: Grades 9 thru 12
Evidence given by attendees during the meeting indicated that Some parents are moving students from Ringgold to private schools and/or adjacent school districts. Popular teacher and Coach Joe Ravasio gave an impassioned address citing “the only reason that any of us are here is to serve the kids” and stressed that “all the kids in the district are Ringgold kids.” He was upset to the point of tears that some of “his brightest kids” are leaving Ringgold. He repeatedly said, “We need to give these Ringgold kids something to dream for, not drive them away.” I can’t agree with him more.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 June 2012 09:31