By Andrea Cordle
Grove City Council gave its support to the South-Western City Schools District.
At the Sept. 17 meeting, council approved a resolution to support Issue 7, the district’s bond levy of 1.86 mills, that will be on the Nov. 6 ballot.
In 2012, voters supported a bond issue to rebuild or renovate all the elementary schools in the district and build a new Franklin Heights High School. That was the first segment of the school building project. Now, the second segment begins.
“You can’t drive by the new elementary schools without pride,” said Issue 7 co-chair Larry Titus. “Now, it’s time to see high tech and safe middle schools, just like the elementary schools.”
The district is partnering with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission to rebuild the four oldest middle schools – Brookpark, Finland, Norton and Pleasant View. The project would also include building an addition onto Jackson Middle School, renovating East Franklin Elementary School and completing some roofing and asphalt projects.
The total cost of the project is estimated at $163 million. The state would pay $60 million toward the construction project. The district will have retiring bond debt to offset the 1.86-mills generated by the issue, which would allow the project to be completed at no additional cost to taxpayers. This is similar to the no new millage bond issue passed by voters several years ago to build the new elementary schools. About half of the core construction cost was covered by the state.
According to school district Superintendent Dr. Bill Wise, if voters approve the bond issue, the design phase would begin in 2019 and the new middle schools could be open by the fall of 2022.
Councilman Roby Schottke asked if the new middle schools would be able to house more students.
Wise said the project would add about 800 to 900 seats at the middle school level. He also said Brookpark Middle School would not be built on its existing site. The district is looking to move that school closer to the Beulah Park property, which is undergoing redevelopment. The current Brookpark building could be used as extra space if needed.
Councilman Steven Robinette asked the superintendent if the new elementary school buildings have ended up cutting operational costs.
Wise said the newly designed schools are geothermal.
“Last year, we did not use natural gas to heat the buildings until after January,” said Wise.
Wise also said the classrooms have light monitors so if no movement is detected within 20 minutes, the lights go out.
“There is no question – our square footage costs are less,” said the superintendent.
The South-Western City Schools District is one of the largest public school districts in the state of Ohio. It has more than 22,000 students and covers 119 square miles in southwestern Franklin County.
For additional information on Issue 7, visit swcsd.us.