Pioneer Council Skeptical Of Joint Meeting Room With Local School

By: James Pruitt
THE VILLAGE REPORTER

Should the village of Pioneer accept an offer by North Central Schools to share a room for council and school board chambers?

That’s the question the Pioneer council discussed at its April 11 meeting. The offer could provide both entities with a chance to have a meeting room to call their own with several amenities.

“That all has to be done with local money,” Kidston said.

Mayor Ed Kidston said he talked with North Central Local Schools Superintendent Ken Boyer about joining forces to turn an empty room at the new high school into a combined meeting room. The meeting room is not covered by the district’s contract for the new school and is thus barren.

To transform the bare room into chambers would require the village and district to split $75,000 to $80,000. Boyer has asked the village to contribute $40,000, the mayor said.

For that money, the room would feature a raised platform for village council; a screen for presentations and a separate room for executive sessions. The latter appealed to mayor as a way to keep from kicking residents out in the cold as is the practice now.

“There shouldn’t be any conflict with us as we meet on Monday nights and the school board meets on Tuesday nights,” Kidston said. “We can have it anytime we want. It would be community room for small meetings.”

“The room is there, to finish it, it’s going to need chairs and everything else.”

“At the end of the day, it’s proof we are working with the school. We would be spending taxpayer dollars wisely.”

While the council could meet in the Community Center forever, Kidston said there are hidden costs in using the facility. The joint meeting room would be permanently set up and ready to go, he said.

The council would have the benefit of having the electronics and other amenities. The school would pay utilities, Kidston said.

For some on the council, the deal was not sweet enough.

Council member David Thompson was not sure spending $40,000 on a meeting room was a good expenditure of taxpayer money. He asked the mayor what the district has promised.

“We are not promised anything,” Kidston said.

Village Solicitor Tom Thompson said he would have to look at the structure of any agreement to see if the village could partner with the school on such an arrangement.

Council member Rod Eckley said he had a hard time believing the room would be so available to the village as Kidston says.

While $40,000 may not seem like a lot of money, the village has several projects slated for this year including $280,000 committed for work on First Street, Village Administrator Alan Fiser said.

Kidston suggested having Boyer come to a council meeting to help clarify the issue. The move still appealed to him since the council currently doesn’t have a meeting room.

James Pruitt may be reached at
publisher@thevillagereporter.com

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