East Holmes Schools set to expand after purchase

East Holmes Schools set  to expand after purchase

As East Holmes School District continues to grow larger each year in attendance, the district recently made a purchase that it hopes will bring administration and other aspects of the school closer together.

On Friday, Dec. 10, the East Holmes School Board approved a real-estate purchase agreement with Salt & Light Investments for property located at 4535 Township Road 367 in the amount of $750,000. The land and buildings sit on 1.872 acres of land.

The land, which is the current home of Eco-Seal Home Solutions, located across Township Road 367 on the west side of Hiland High School, will be dedicated to creating a new central office and a new bus garage.

Miller said Eco-Seal has been outgrowing its current facility at an alarming rate, so the need to find a new location allowed the company to enter discussions with the school district.

“We were busting at the seams and had to actually approach the school to see if we could park in their parking lot,” Miller said. “That’s how they found out we were looking to move, and we started talking. They were very accommodating, and we were really excited about this because we felt it would be a really nice fit for the school district. We felt the talks went really well.”

“We purchased the property across from the Reese Center sometime this summer as owner Kevin Miller began plans to move the company in the coming year,” East Holmes superintendent Erik Beun said. “The location of that property is ideal for us. As we started talking, things came together, and the board approved the purchase at our recent board meeting, and possession will happen in June of 2023.”

According to Beun, the purchase makes sense in benefiting the school district in several ways. He said a couple of things that make the purchase a fit is the district can move its bus garage on to the property and they also can create a new central office building that brings the district administration closer together with the high and middle school.

“Our intent and plan are to have the central office and bus garage there. Our current bus garage has served its purpose, but it needs some major repairs,” Beun said. “We have six or eight district staff members scattered around throughout the district, so it will be nice to bring them all under one roof, and it should help us improve our communication.”

Beun said the current bus garage could be razed to create more parking for high school events, but that decision has yet to be finalized as the board discusses possibilities.

“I think it will really improve traffic flow and parking at the high school,” Beun said. “It gives us more options to consider.”

Beun went on to say the board has recognized that parking issues at the high school have become a problem, and they also recognized the bus garage would need to be replaced at some point or the district would have to invest in major construction dollars.

With land at a premium in East Holmes, he said when the opportunity arose to go into discussion with Miller, it made sense to act promptly. That the property already has a building with office space also was a plus in moving the central office.

“To have something this close and centrally located is perfect, and we are thankful for the opportunity Kevin and Eco-Seal have given us to grow,” Beun said.

In addition to the land purchase, the board also approved the purchase of two 2022 72-passenger school buses through Cardinal at a cost of $97,724 each. Bids were received through META solutions, and Beun said the district has been going on a plan in which they purchase one bus and then two buses in alternate years.

The need for new buses arises due to how spread out the district is and how many miles the fleet racks up daily.

“People would be surprised to know that on a normal day of busing, our buses put on the equivalent of driving from here to Sarasota, Florida,” Beun said. “That’s a lot of wear and tear and mileage.”

He went on to say that with the challenge of supply chains to provide anything right now, the district ordered the buses far sooner than in past years in hopes they would arrive in time for the beginning of the 2022-23 school year.

“We ordered a couple of months early, and there’s still no guarantee it will happen,” Beun said.

Finally, Beun acknowledged outgoing board member Thurman Mullet, who served his final board meeting. Beun said Mullet served as a board member for eight years and exemplified someone who wants to keep the good of the school first.

“During his eight years, Thurman has really been a great representative of the community and has worked to make decisions with the students’ perspectives at heart,” Beun said. “We will certainly miss him because he is such a big supporter of our schools and the community.”

Mullet’s seat on the board will be taken by Laurel (Nippert) Miller, a former Hiland High School graduate and longtime community member, like Mullet.