By Rick Palsgrove
What is the future of the nearly 50-year-old Groveport Madison High School building?
SHP Leading Design presented three proposed options to the Groveport Madison Board of Education on what could be done with the aging high school, located at 4475 S. Hamilton Road in Groveport:
•Maintain and renovate the existing building at a cost of $16 million spread out over a 16 to 20 year period using the $1 million available in the permanent improvement fund each year.
•Renovate and construct additions to the existing building at a cost of $37 million funded with local money and no Ohio Schools Facilities Commission funding.
•Build a new $62.9 million, 235,000 square foot high school using Ohio Schools Facilities Commission funding with the state paying $29.6 million and the local share paying $33.3 million. The old high school would be torn down and a new high school would be built where the current parking lot, two softball fields and tennis courts now stand. The softball fields and tennis courts would be moved to elsewhere on the property. The new building option could include either constructing a high school with a new auditorium and one, large gymnasium; or keeping the existing auditorium and gymnasium and then building a new high school with a second, larger gymnasium.
Todd Thackery of SHP stated the critical problems at the high school include:
•overcrowding with 1,400 students having only 900 lockers;
•five lunch periods, which disrupts class schedules as the cafeteria only seats 275 students at a time;
•having only one gymnasium that several boys and girls athletic teams, and other activities, must share, requiring some teams to hold practices until 9:30 p.m.
•the existing high school is 149,851 square feet and an additional 85,000 square feet is needed to house the current number of students;
•aging, rusting water lines must be replaced; and
•14 modular classrooms, which Thackery said place a burden on core needs such as restrooms and the cafeteria because the modulars increase the number of students in a facility that it was not originally designed to handle.
“The modulars do not address student capacity issues,” said Thackery. “They just keep everything warm, safe and dry.”
According to SHP, other areas needing to be addressed include replacing ceilings, replacing the roof, renovating restrooms, renovating labs, replacing interior and exterior doors, renovating fine arts rooms, and window replacements.
SHP estimated the annual additional cost in property taxes for the owner of a $100,000 house for a 38 year (maximum), $33.3 million bond issue to build a new high school would be $68.
“Why spend $37 million to renovate when we can spend $33 for a new building?” said board member Nancy Gillespie.
Added board member Charlotte Barker, “I think we can sell this idea.”
Board President Mary Tedrow said any plans for a new building would have to include estimates for the potential for additional new students, or students who have transferred out of the district, coming to Groveport Madison to attend school in a new facility.
“If you build it, they will come,” said Gillespie.
Hoover said the district could consider proposing a long-term, three phase construction project to replace the district’s high school, middle schools and elementaries, with each phase requiring approval of the voters.
“We’re spending $5 million annually for the upkeep of our aging buildings,” said Hoover.
The board will discuss potential bond issue options at future meetings.