Board of education voted 3-2 for Option 4, which includes revisiting a new building within five years
WARSAW — The River View Local Schools Board of Education made a decision regarding district reconfiguration at a recent meeting. The decision was contradictory to popular opinion.
The board voted three to two to go with what was termed Option 4 of four possible plans to consolidate buildings and realign the district with a focus on elementary schools. Evan Fischer and David Lapp were the no votes with Mindy Duncan, Gail Gallwitz and Charlie Wright voting yes.
Option 4 has all preschool to second grade students at Warsaw Elementary School, fourth to sixth grades at the current junior high building with third grade in modular units and seventh to 12th grades at the high school.
Reassessing consolidation and possibly constructing a new elementary building would be revisited in five years.
River View Local School District will not construct a new elementary school
More than 30 meetings were held for community members to gather information and express their opinions this year. The most popular plan by those who filled out an online survey was Option 1. This was to construct a new preschool to third grade building by moving inside millage for financing.
Option four was second on the list. Option 2 was erecting a new building by pursuing a bond issue and Option 3 was the same as option four, but with no plans for a five-year reassessment. Superintendent Chuck Rinkes said more than 360 surveys were completed, but they were hoping for 500.
He said the sticking points for the two no votes was waiting longer to get the ball rolling for a new building. While the three yes votes thought that pursuing a new construction now was moving too fast. However, Rinkes said the important factor was that the board was in agreement that a new building would be needed at some point.
Decision to consolidate and reconfigure schools was based on timing
“Some people can look at a split vote and say the board is going in two different directions. I don’t believe that at all,” Rinkes said. “It’s not so much a difference in thinking, as it’s a difference in timeline; what needs to be done and how fast to do it.”
Rinkes wanted to stress with staff, students and local residents that administration is devoted to the district and has the best interest of all at heart.
“You have five board members that care. You definitely have a superintendent and treasurer that care. One of the mantras that we’re using, this is going to be us from now on, is ‘love, serve, care,'” he said.
Rinkes said community meetings, including his Coffee with Chuck chats at various locations in the district, would continue to share general information and what’s next with consolidation plans.
Movement would be for the 2023 to 2024 school year. Rinkes said the administration would communicate with staff and families on how the reconfiguration will work throughout the summer and next school year. Reconfiguration teams will be formed in the three elementary buildings to assist with the transition.
“The following summer when we do make these moves, everything is worked out, it’s a systematic process; everybody knows why, everybody knows how and everybody knows when these things are going to happen,” Rinkes said.
River View will continue to look into the construction of a new building in the future
For the long term, pursuit of constructing a new building would continue by gathering more information on funding possibilities, working with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission and considering an architect and bond counsel.
“We’ll have all those things in place, then probably have a work session with (the board) to say here’s where we’re at now as we re-examine it and revisit it,” Rinkes said.
River View currently has five buildings with all holding less students than they were designed to house. Student enrollment for February was 1,778 students, down from 2,875 students in 2000. The junior high and high school buildings have a little more than half the number students they can house.
The junior high is the newest building, erected in 1980, with the high school having opened in 1965. Warsaw is the newest and largest of the three elementary buildings, starting in 1927. Conesville Elementary opened in 1916 and Keene Elementary in 1914.
Rinkes previously said going to one elementary, whether it’s a new building or funneling students to Warsaw, will offer consistent class sizes, more focus on developmental needs and better communication among teachers. He’s not expecting any reduction in teachers to start, but there could be a reduction in custodial and kitchen workers with less space to cover.
“We still are going to provide an excellent education, but in the next few years we’re going to do that in a smaller footprint. The goal with that is to try and save money as that happens and to keep being excited about our future as we move toward the next 10, 20, 30 years,” Rinkes