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United moves forward with new building

HANOVERTON — United Local is one step closer to breaking ground on the new K-12 building–but don’t expect to see any bulldozers quite yet.

The school board voted to approve a resolution of acceptance in the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission’s Classroom Facilities Assistance Program during their June board meeting. The approval came after the board and Superintendent Lance Hostetler were notified that the Ohio Controlling Board approved the release of state funds for their LAPSED project on May 24, pending approval from the board. The state share totals $28,970,346 while the local share that United will be contributing is $20,131,935. With the state funds released, Hostetler says the district can move forward with the project and form a tentative timeline for construction.

“We’re set to start the whole thing, it’s coming,” Hostetler said. He said that by the end of the month the district will select an architect which is done in conjunction with the OFCC with both parties getting equal votes in the selection. By the end of July, a construction manager will be selected.

Hostetler said that the next year will be spent working with the architect and developing a design for the building. The architect will meet with the district, staff members and community members to get an idea of what everyone wants to see. Hostetler said that staff members will be sent out to various other school buildings for inspiration.

Ten architecture firms contacted the district with interest in the project and those architects were given a “grade” based on previous projects, availability and experience in Ohio, and from those a top three were selected. One architect will be selected after interviews are conducted over the next month, and planning should begin this August once the staff is back in the building and can be a part of the process.

Hostetler aims to have a completed plan by next spring.

“If we do the planning in the fall, they probably won’t do any excavation until next summer,” Hostetler said.

If construction begins next summer, Hostetler said they predict students to be in the building and ready to learn by the fall of 2025, making for an estimated three-year-long project. Over the next few years, minimizing disruptions to education and regular school activities is a top priority and Hostetler said several questions will be raised to the selected architect. The plan is to build simultaneously and keep students in the original building as construction progresses.

“How can we build simultaneously and have enough parking and be able to hold athletic events, those are some of the questions that we will have to address with the architect,” Hostetler said.

As for the design vision, several items appear on Hostetler’s wish-list. Bright, daylit spaces, hands on learning labs, flexibly designed academic spaces, reduced maintenance and operating costs, enhanced curricular and extracurricular spaces and an overall inspiring academic setting will all be included in the new building. Hostetler said that natural sunlight is a proven factor for student success, and he personally looks forward to possibly having a window in his office for the first time in four years.

The new building will also provide a safer environment for students and faculty. Currently, there are multiple points of entry to the school, something that Hostetler said current architects are mindful of when building schools. Securing entryways and reducing the number of points of entry to schools came into discussion over the last two decades as the number of mass-shootings has steadily climbed. Limiting the number of entryways gives schools a better opportunity to monitor who enters the building and allows for tighter security measures.

Above everything, Hostetler hopes that the school serves the entire community and benefits this generation and future generations.

“We want to tie in to the community, I believe that we are a central part of our community and to be able to give back to them and host events for them is important,” he said. “I’m just excited to have this opportunity to give back to the community a little bit.”

Community members who have thoughts or ideas about the upcoming project can share them with the Community Advisory Team, a team developed to ensure that the wants, needs, wishes and demands of the community are met and heard, at https://buildunitedlocal.com.

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