GAMBIER — The Mount Vernon City Schools board of education unanimously voted Monday night at their monthly board meeting, held at Wiggin Street Elementary, to approve allowing Superintendent Bill Seder and Treasurer Judy Forney to secure financing and fundraising ventures for the Education Gateway Project. This three-fold construction project includes the new Community Field House, the maintenance building and bus garage, as well as the Yellow Jacket Drive extension.
The total cost of the three-pronged Education Gateway Project is $7.5 million, Seder shared with the News. Funds will come primarily from district funds, including permanent improvement, casino revenue and community and private fundraising efforts.
Seder shared with the board that Ariel Corp. is continuing their collaboration with MVCSD following the Stadium Renovation Project in 2015-16 and has pledged to match, dollar-for-dollar, all of the money raised through fundraising.
“It’s the whole project, she [Karen Buchwald Wright, CEO of Ariel] supports so many projects, but the idea of supporting this three-fold project, I think is what became attractive to this,” Seder said. “This idea about the community is what she’s all about, certainly about kids and all of those things, but the idea that this will be a community field house, and the transportation and all of that mixed in. The safety was really an important feature for them as well, so it’s a three-way project and that’s what they were really excited about.”
Adena Construction, a Mansfield-based construction company, has been awarded the bids for the Community Field House project, at a total cost of $4,899,159, as well as the maintenance building and bus garage project, which carries a total cost of $1,973,000, Seder shared.
“Since the two facilities sit side by side, that will be Adena’s focus on that,” Seder said.
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The new transportation and maintenance building will feature an increased size of 12,000-square-feet for four bus bays (versus the current two bus bays), serviceability for larger buses, reduced travel time, reduced fuel and labor costs, office space for the departments, opportunities to share resources with Mount Vernon Nazarene University’s transportation department and will bring a potential for natural gas buses in the future, Seder explained to the board.
The Community Field House will be a facility that can serve both community and school programming, Seder said. The new facility can enhance community connections with MVNU, the Kokosing Gap Trail, Memorial Park and Ariel-Foundation Park, he said, and could be used as a host site for regional recreation tournaments, fitness programming for Seniors and community members and could serve before and after school programming for Mount Vernon students and families, Seder shared.
The Community Field House will include two multi-purpose locker rooms, three multi-purpose courts, a weight room, a wrestling room, a walking track, offices, restrooms and an athletic training center.
Mount Vernon City Schools have a goal to use primarily non-taxed generated revenues from Casino funds to co-fund the field house project, along with permanent improvement dollars and future potential revenues for the Transportation/Maintenance building and Yellow Jacket Drive extension, Seder explained to the board.
The Community Field House project is also funded with The Jacket Boosters, the athletic booster organization, which has pledged to share one-third of the overall cost of approximately $5 million. Seder shared that the organization has already raised over $1 million in private commitments toward the field house portion, and will continue to raise funds through a public-private partnership funding model. They have also created a Community Foundation endowment program to “assist specific donors,” Seder shared with the News.
Bob Tiell, a representative of the Jacket Boosters told the News that the organization is excited to finally officially kick-off fundraising, both privately and publicly, for the Community Field House project. Their new goal for fundraising is $1.5 million for the boosters, he said.
“It’s been in the works for a little over two years,” Tiell said. “Currently we have inadequate facilities for our students, for our community, when it comes to athletics. It will provide a place for our seniors to walk in inclement weather, it’s going to provide for safety and traffic flow, by extending Yellow Jacket drive, and just the overall appearance of our school is going to be so much more positive.”
The Yellow Jacket Drive Extension project, which will connect Yellow Jacket Drive to MVNU’s Cougar Drive, will cost the district approximately $500,000. This project is a partnership between the City of Mount Vernon, who has pledged civil engineering and site work, as well as bringing in a water line located on Cougar Drive to the Mount Vernon schools campus which is currently underserved with its current line, according to Seder. MVNU has committed to donating the land for the extension and the Ohio Operating Engineers Apprenticeship and Training center has agreed to donate all of the equipment and labor to complete the extension in the Fall of 2019, according to Seder.
Seder told the News that the funding efforts of the district and the boosters will be kept public, even going so far as to use a giant thermometer to keep community members abreast of the funds that are being raised.
“Obviously we’re going to use, from a district standpoint, we’ll use our casino funds, primarily that will go toward the field house, and obviously we have some PI (permanent improvement) dollars, which will go to the financing of the transportation/maintenance buildings, and we may even have additional support for that as we move forward,” Seder told the News. “We’ll certainly make all of that transparent.”