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Board discusses new building

Alissa Widman Neese • Jan 23, 2014 at 9:40 AM

Townsend Community School board members continue to discuss the construction of a standalone school building this year, a plan they say is still in “preliminary stages”

In December, director Pete Bartkowiak said he might unveil official plans to Margaretta school board members as early as February.

But when contacted Wednesday, Bartkowiak said he suspects it may be a “couple months or so” until concrete plans are in place.

On Tuesday, project architect Scott Mularoni presented preliminary site and floor plans to board members and garnered a fair amount of feedback.

“It went well, and we’re probably going to meet again in February to go over more,” Bartkowiak said. “Now that we’ve got the overall concept down, it’s a matter of finetuning and tweaking things so we can get the best use out of the space. We’re still working on it”

Aspects of the project currently being considered:

• A one- or two-story building, between 12,000 and 15,000 square feet, located near Margaretta High School. It could accommodate up to 600 students.

• A college-style “common area” in the building’s center, with small classrooms surrounding it for individualized instruction with teachers.

• A large computer lab equipped with enough devices for Townsend Community School and Margaretta Schools students to complete state-mandated online testing.

Margaretta Schools sponsors Townsend Community School, which debuted in 2011 as north-central Ohio’s first charter school.

The enrollment fluctuates daily, but these days it’s at about 475 active students. They’re housed at various times in annex buildings near Margaretta High School and the old Townsend School building, where they complete school work at their own pace in a nontraditional school setting.

As enrollment continues to increase each year, Townsend Community School is simply running out of space to house its students, Bartkowiak said.

Students independently come and go during the school day, and they typically use classrooms when they need extra, one-on-one help with a teacher.

As such, Townsend Community School’s potential building wouldn’t look like a traditional school, as its student population has different needs, Bartkowiak has said.

Any future building construction would require approval from both Margaretta and Townsend school board members. It must be done within the sponsoring district, with Townsend Community School covering all costs.

Contracting with Mularoni for the project cost the charter school about $24,000. Its annual budget, typically about $2 million, is based on student enrollment.

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