New board office building to open on campus next month

Zoe Greszler • Apr 12, 2019 at 9:00 AM

WILLARD — The Willard school board finally will be able to move into its new board offices and administrative headquarters. 

Director of buildings and grounds Mike Lillo said the expected move-in day should be in May. He told the board it shouldn’t be long before they’re able to move in and operate out of the new space. 

When asked if he was excited for the offices to be finished, Superintendent Jeff Ritz said “very much so.”

“I’ll be even more excited though when we can actually move in,” he said. “The big thing with the board office is that we’re going to be saving on the utility costs; and that’ll be a good recurring savings.”

The project, which originally went to bid about a year ago, was planned as a way to bring the school board offices from 110 S. Myrtle Ave., Willard, onto the school’s main campus, and then move the bus garage off property. The project originally was bid out for about $1.3 million. However, Ritz told the board that finanically, things were going better than expected.  

Janotta & Herner really helped us out and then bidding it out ourselves to local contractors helped immensely,” Ritz said. “And it’s the same way with the board office. We contracted that out as well through the bid process to local contractors and they’ve stepped up and really helped us. The two together — the bus garage and board offices — we originally bid it at $1.3, but it came out under or right about $1 million.”

Board president Chris Rothhaar said he was excited to see full crews working on the new bus garage. 

“We’re beginning to see action happening, so that’s really good,” he said. The board originally made the decision to begin the project after accessing the needs of both the garage and the desire to have all school offices together.  

“The old bus garage is in need of serious work, more than it was worth with the time and money,” Rothhaar said. “And this is a good opportunity for us to get it off the property, since it really doesn’t have any need to be here and it frees up space for future projects. That’s sort of a big thing there.

“And as far as the board office, I think it’s just a good move there too. We have a partnership with the city, so we swapped that (the former board office location) for the bus garage land. So we got the bus garage land for the cost of the building. ... It’s just kind of a good move and a win-win. I think it’s a good move for us and a good move for the city.”

Rothhaar and Ritz agreed it will be beneficial to have the administrative headquarters on site.

“The administration and the curriculum director will be right here, working with the teachers,” Rothhaar said. “That’s not to say they wouldn’t be here anyway, but the logistics of being here on campus versus being across town, having to drive down and needing to remember to bring everything with you — this is better. .... And it can go both ways as well. If the teachers have any questions, they can just walk over now as well. It just makes sense.”

Ritz said the on-site offices makes him more accessible to parents, who previously may have been deterred from talking with him after finding out they’d have to drive downtown to see him person.

“It’s more accessible to the parents and the community being here,” he said. “It makes sense to keep it all on the one campus.”

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