LAKEMORE In November, Springfield Local School District employees and officials from Springfield Township and the Village of Lakemore attended the groundbreaking for a new transportation depot for the school district at 2660 Kenny Ray Jr. Memorial Pkwy.

Several groups of officials excitedly dug shovels of dirt to signify the beginning of the long-awaited project.

At the groundbreaking, Melinda Hamilton, president of the Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE) #530, said it was a fitting address for the depot because Ray, as a young man, was a bus driver for the district.

Six months later and despite the COVID-19 pandemic, work on the building continues as it was considered to be essential work.

Business Manager Dustin Boswell, however, said the district has been taking precautions, including staggering sub-contractors and staying apart to keep everyone safe. The exterior is finished, the floors have been poured and the electric, heating, cooling and framing are being wrapped up. The anticipated move in date is July 1 however, there is time built in if there are any issues.

“Luckily, we have had good weather and they were able to work almost all winter,” said Boswell.

The new building allows for a staff parking lot separate from the bus parking. Buses are all pulled in parking with easy pull forward exiting, no backing out.

“The drivers have been deserving of this for years,” Boswell said. It will increase the efficiency of the operation. We have been making the best of the facility we have but to design this to meet the needs of school transportation instead of just making it work is great.“

Since 2012, the transportation department has been located at a rented facility off the district’s property. That was done to provide room for the construction of the Junior/Senior High School. The transportation staff has made the best of the space throughout the last seven years.

The facility will be 7,987 square feet and will consist of three maintenance bays, one drive through wash bay, transportation office, storage and driver meeting space.

The search for property to construct a building began in the fall of 2016, and in March 2019 the Board of Education approved the agreement with owners of Lakemore Plaza to purchase the 16 acres behind the plaza for $250,000. It was determined it was a central location with access to major roads.

Superintendent Chuck Sincere said there is additional land with the site and that lends itself to doing some other things in the future.

The cost of the facility will be $2,304,397

“First Student leases part of the building from us and they will continue to do so after we have the building paid for,” said Boswell.

The rental funds and the cost savings from operational efficiencies will be directed to the construction cost of the facility. Boswell said savings will be seen through the fact fuel will be cheaper as the district will buy in bulk. It will take less time for bus drivers to fuel onsite instead of various stations throughout the area and the central locations will save on driving time.

“Financially, it will be a better situation and safer for the employees,” said Boswell.