The first group to break ground on Shelby City Schools' new K-8 building included preschooler Gracie Dennis, kindergartner Beckett Bates, first grader Allie Schroeder, second grader Ava Ebersole, third grader Elijah Leo, fourth grader Jaxon Curren, fifth grader Nathan Mahon, and sixth grader Courtney Howarth, accompanied by teachers Sheri Mitchell, Dr. Kristin Kaple-Jones, Kelly Kuhn, Tianna Keinath and Barb Green. 

SHELBY — Tim Tarvin couldn't have asked for a better birthday celebration. 

After more than three years of campaigning, educating and financial finagling with the Shelby Board of Education, the superintendent served as the master of ceremonies for the groundbreaking of the district's new preK-8 school building on Friday. 

Shelby Mayor Steve Schag led the masked crowd gathered behind the current Shelby Middle School in singing the "Happy Birthday" song. 

"It's going to be a large building, it's going to be gorgeous, and we're spending district money wisely," Tarvin said among many thank-you's. "It's going to be a beautiful facility for this community." 

Standing at almost 155,000 square feet, the new building will house approximately 1,400 students and 200 staff members. Tarvin estimated the building will be ready for students in the fall of 2022. 

The journey to Friday's groundbreaking started in July 2017, when the district first introduced the idea of a new building. Multiple speakers commemorating the groundbreaking on Friday noted the fortitude and persistence of the district to bring the project to fruition. 

"Kudos to Mr. Tarvin and the school board for their determination along this long and arduous journey that has brought us to this day," Schag said. "They have displayed creativity, patience and courageous decisions that have been made that have brought us to this day." 

The new building became a reality in June 2019 when the Shelby Board of Education financially authorized the "construction, furnishing and equipping of school facilities." The cost to the Shelby City Schools district will be $19,274,020 over 30 years; the cost to Shelby taxpayers will be zero. 

Through a financial package from the district plus Rover Pipeline revenue, Shelby City Schools is able to contribute $19.3 million towards the total needed to build a new Pre-K through eighth grade facility. The other part of the facility will be paid for through the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) Classroom Facilities Assistance Program.

The district’s cost breakdown is as follows:

• Prior construction funds: $1.7 million

• General fund cash contribution: $2 million

• Certificates of Participation funding: Approximately $15.6 million

The estimated average annual payment towards the new facility is $950,000. Rover Pipeline property taxes will largely support the payments.

Shelby voters rejected the district's attempts at passing a levy to build a new school three times - first at the Nov. 7, 2017 general election, again at the May 8, 2018 primary election, and finally at the Nov. 6, 2018 election. 

The Shelby Board of Education announced in November 2018 that the district would not go back to the ballot with a bond issue to construct a new school.

Then, in March 2019 the district found one last Hail Mary option to build a new building without needing any additional taxpayer money when the OFCC was willing to fund half of a new building in Shelby. 

The new pre-kindergarten through eighth grade building will combine the student populations of Dowds Elementary, Auburn Elementary and Shelby Middle School. Auburn Elementary was built in 1948, Dowds Elementary was built in 1956, and Shelby Middle School was built in 1965.

Fifth grader Arabella Ream and sixth grader Salem Keller both said in essays read during Friday's ceremony that they were looking forward to a building with air conditioning, without cracked walls, and with a prettier color scheme. 

Board president Scott Rose added educators will also appreciate additional space, where closets won't double as music rooms and art teachers have their own classrooms instead of wheeling a cart around the building. 

"From our standpoint from a board, it's hard not to be excited," Rose said. "A lot of good things are happening around here. We want to be a district where people want to plant their roots." 

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