‘At a crossroads’: Apollo superintendent explains center’s needs

Considering their options, Apollo Career Center administrators are planning a community forum this week to discuss future funding and renovation options.

Apollo Superintendent Judy Wells addressed Wapakoneta City Schools Board of Education members Tuesday to explain the needs of the career and technical education center.

“We’re at a crossroads now,” Wells said at Wapakoneta’s Board of Education meeting. “We’ve gone as far as we can go finetuning and renovating. We’re in need of some serious money for things that need to be fixed.”

The school is listed as no. 1 on a list to receive Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) funding with the state covering 67 percent of costs.

In addressing Wapakoneta Board of Education members, Wells thanked them for their support through the years, both financially and by trusting them with their children and grandchildren for the past 36 years.

Since a new master plan is being revealed Thursday morning, Wells said she couldn’t talk firm numbers, but a levy could go to voters as soon as Nov. 12. The Minster engineering and architectural firm of Garmann-Miller & Associates is working on the plans.

Wells said she anticipates asking voters for between a 0.5-mill and a 1-mill property levy, keeping it as close to a 0.5-mill levy as possible. This would raise approximately $1 million a year.

A 0.5-mill levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home approximately $16 a year and 1-mill levy would double that amount, or $32, per year.

“We would receive two OSFC dollars for each local dollar so it’s a pretty darn good deal and hard to turn down,” Wells said.

The project is expected to address three main issues —  failing infrastructure, aging technology, and the aim to improve academic facilities for course offerings.

When Apollo was built in 1976 it served 540 students, a number that has grown substantially. Two academic classes at the time have evolved into the 23 offered now and computers, which weren’t even in the building then, are now wireless and used in every program.

Two new programs (sports fitness and a culinary arts program for adults) being offered by Apollo next year are to be held off-campus because they can’t be accommodated there.

Retrofitted classrooms have been able to squeeze more students in, but not enough to meet the demands for training from business and industry. A welding lab could be used 24 hours a day, seven days a week to meet needs, Wells cited as an example.

Apollo’s adult program, which more people have been turning to as a resource during bad economic times, served 4,000 adults last year and classes are offered from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“We want to be what we need to be for the community,” Wells said, explaining expanded facilities and hours could allow them to better meet industry training needs. “We’re out of space, out of options and out of finances.”

Wapakoneta City Schools Board Member Eric McKinniss said it has always amazed him the quality of graduates of Apollo and it sounds like time to do something.

“Because they are spread out over 11 school districts, they can do it with 1 mill or a one-half mill levy,” said Wapakoneta City Schools Superintendent Keith Horner. “Apollo is a really great choice. A lot of our kids go there, a lot of kids that don’t fit the traditional mold, but it benefits all ages.”

A community forum on a possible renovation project is planned for 7 p.m. Thursday in the Apollo Career Center commons. Wells invited Wapakoneta City Schools Board of Education members and residents in the Wapakoneta schools district to attend .

She said they sincerely want to know what the community thinks before they make any decisions.