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Coshocton considers saving Central’s planetarium and main gym

| March 27, 2013

COSHOCTON – As the new Coshocton Elementary School nears completion, the Coshocton City School Board of Education has begun deliberations regarding the planetarium and the Central gymnasium.

“The planetarium is a valuable source of science study and Central’s gym is a concern for people because we are moving from three gyms to only two,” said Dr. Vic Cardenzana. “They are concerned about whether or not we can accommodate all the games our students play without having to send them to Kids America and dealing with rental fees and so forth.”

Cardenzana is the owner’s representative for the board of education.

“I’ve been charged with the job of overseeing the building of the new elementary school,” he said. “I meet with contractors and the project manager, review the building on a daily bases, prepare a report each night for the superintendent and take thousands of pictures and store them. I also look at things that would help the students and the district and keep my eyes open to make sure things are done right.

To make sure the gym and planetarium are handled in the right way, a study is currently underway to investigate the possibility of saving the gym and what it might cost to do so and a committee has been established to ascertain whether the planetarium can be dismantled and moved to another location.

“A decision is going to have to be made very soon because the (old school) buildings are scheduled to possibly be demolished or sold,” Cardenzana said. “The board of education is going to at least by the end of May have to figure out what to do. They’d also have to have an architect figure out guidelines for saving the gym.”

It’s also important to note that the board of education has very limited money to fund either of these projects. Should it become feasible to preserve one or both of these projects, the bulk of the money will need to be raised through community donations.

Issues revolving around the planetarium are as follows:

–          The planetarium has seen little use in recent years. Could its relocation create a resurgent interest in astronomy? Would other districts in the county be interested in having their classes visit the planetarium periodically as part of their science programs? Central’s planetarium is the only one for miles around.

–          The equipment in the planetarium is old and parts may not be available over the next several years. A new planetarium would cost upwards of $200,000. Since the long range plan of the district is to renovate the high school sometime in the future, a new planetarium could be included in that project at district expense.

–          Knowing that the current planetarium can be dismantled and re-assembled, where could it be situated? Building an addition to the new elementary school or to the high school is currently out of the question. Several locations have been explored: Rooms adjacent to the Central gym and the old bus garage at the high school which was converted into classrooms. The rooms adjacent to the gym are not wide enough and extensive work would be required to install the planetarium in the old bus garage; the roof would need to be cut and restructured since the height of the planetarium exceeds 20 feet. Tear-down and reassembly cost has been estimated at $30,000 while adaptations to and roof re-structuring at the old bus garage could be as high as an additional $30,000.

“We also could possibly dismantle the planetarium and store it but we are not sure how much that would cost and there are not too many places to store it,” Cardenzana said. “It could be used when renovations are made to the high school but that is probably a ways off.”

If the community wants to save the planetarium they would have to contribute more than $60,000 to the project. The public can share how it feels by visiting, www.coshoctonredskins.com, and taking a survey.

Category: Education

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Article contributed to The Beacon.

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