By Dawn Hatfield
VERSAILLES — On Thursday, Dec. 15, a large crowd braved the cold to gather outside Versailles Exempted Village Schools (VEVS) at 280 Marker Road in celebration of Project Opportunity’s groundbreaking.
Aaron Moran, VEVS Superintendent, thanked board members, teachers, students, and construction teams from Level MB and Garmann Miller for their attendance.
Moran said, “We’ve been talking about this [project] for awhile… It’s been two years in the making, and quite a bit of dirt has already been moved, so that’s a good thing. A lot of exciting opportunities can happen with these buildings that will support some already fantastic programs, nationally- and state-recognized programs. We’re very excited about that! We’re glad you could be here with us.”
Project Opportunity is considered the necessary next step in a district with expanding music, FFA, and STEM programs. The VEVS music program has increased by 75 percent, from roughly 40 students to 70 students; FFA has increased courses and grown to 180-plus students in grades eight to 12 with two full-time teachers; and STEM programs, now a requirement, have increased dramatically in the past 12 years.
According to the VEVS website, “Because of this growth, Versailles Schools is adding an expansion on the south part of the school building. This project is called Project Opportunity. The addition will include new band, STEM, weight, and multi-purpose rooms along with a lobby and more storage areas.”
The current need for Industrial Arts (STEM, Robotics) to share an area with FFA, and band and choir’s need to share space also will be remedied by this new addition.
The district recently received bids on two-thirds of the expansion project and updated estimates on the remaining third of the project. The current costs for the project are $14.5 million for the completion of STEM, FFA, music, weight room, and multi-purpose space. At this time, the district will not be able to afford to complete the entire project without additional fundraising. The priority would be to complete all areas except the multi-purpose space. The district is spending $5 million from General Funds, $5 million from a 15-year 2.75 percent lease program, and $2 million from various other grants, reimbursements, and funding.
VEVS has been fortunate to have businesses, organizations, and families donate roughly $900,000 toward the project already. However, an additional $1.5 million is needed to complete all parts of Project Opportunity. If these additional funds are not raised, the multi-purpose space will have to be removed or delayed from the project.
In a Nov. 21 update, Moran said, “To try and reach this goal, I am seeking interested people, who may consider donating to complete the project… While the amount is large, I believe the attempt to complete the project is worthwhile.”
Donors who have pledged at least $5,000 will be recognized for their contributions by being placed on the donor wall for the specific area of the project. Additionally, donations of $5,000 or more may be split into equal amounts over five years. Those who would like to make a donation specifically for the multi-purpose area have another option. Donations of $150 for every 10 square feet will be recognized on the lobby wall. The multi-purpose room would have roughly 32,500 square feet of floor space, including a three-lane walking track, a court for volleyball/pickleball, and infield turf.
Potential donors are encouraged to contact Superintendent Moran at 937-621-1810 or [email protected] before Friday, Dec. 23, 2022, the deadline for pledges.
Keep up-to-date on Project Opportunity at https://www.versailles.k12.oh.us/ProjectOpportunity.aspx . A detailed brochure and donation form are available on the site.
Reach Daily Advocate Reporter Dawn Hatfield at [email protected] or 937-569-0066.