GM Schools and OAPSE union agreement; plus: district sells land; high school project update

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By Rick Palsgrove
Southeast Editor

The Groveport Madison Board of Education approved a new contract agreement with Local #312 of the Ohio Association of Public School Employees/AFSCME Local 4/AFLCIO.

The union represents 203 non-certified district employees including maintenance workers, custodial workers, food service workers, educational aides and secretaries.

According to school officials, the new three year contract, effective July 1, provides the first base salary increase these  union employees have seen in about eight years. The contract provides a 1.5 percent base salary increase for all union employees in the first year, a 2.5 percent in the second year, and a 3 percent increase in year three.

“We are pleased by how well both sides worked together to reach an agreement so quickly,” said Groveport Madison Superintendent Bruce Hoover.

Both parties said negotiations were positive.

“On behalf of the union, I want to thank the board for its support in ensuring both parties continue to maintain a great working relationship,” said Pam Ling, union president. “This was evident during the negotiation process given the spirit of cooperation and collaboration that took place between parties.”

Regarding the district’s ongoing contract negotiations with the teachers’ union, Hoover said, “The negotiations are going well and we’re pleased by the progress we’ve made so far.”

Board President Nathan Slonaker added, “We hope to have a fair resolution soon.”

The teachers’ contract expires July 1.

Land sale

The board approved the sale of 35 acres of district owned land – located on the west side of Noe-Bixby Road north of Sedalia Drive and between Crosscreek Drive and Nieles Edge Drive – to the city of Columbus for $169,300.

“Only about eight acres was available for development and the rest of the acreage is in a flood plain,” said Hoover, who added the money from the land sale will go into the district’s permanent improvement fund to help pay for school infrastructure needs.

Hoover said he believes the city of Columbus will work with Metro Parks to for an easement for a bicycle path on the land.

High school project update

Chris Dumford, VSWC Architects vice president, said a detailed schematic design and basic plan for the look of the new high school, as well as cost estimates, are being reviewed by the construction manager and should be ready to present to the board for approval at the board’s July meeting.

“It’s a big picture representation of the overall design to make sure the building is the right size, has enough rooms and so on, and to make sure the project is on budget,” said Dumford. “If it comes in over budget, then the plan can be modified to meet the budget.”

Board members asked if the district is seeing an increase in high school enrollment now that the new high school is becoming a reality.

Hoover said the high school enrollment is now at around 1,500, which is up by about 100 students. He said officials will monitor enrollment trends to see if they rise. He noted projections show the district with a negative birth rate trend over the next 20 years and that most of the land available for residential developments in the district is already built out.

“Unless we see new housing growth, any influx in numbers will just keep enrollment steady,” said Hoover.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the new high school will be held Aug. 22 at 10 a.m. Current and former students and staff, parents and community members are invited.

Plans are to build the new high school south and west of the existing high school, located at 4475 S. Hamilton Road. Dumford said some preparatory site work will be done this summer and winter, but the major construction work on the new high school will begin in the spring of 2016 with completion expected by the summer of 2018. The existing high school will continue to be used during the construction.  While construction is taking place, the bus garage will be moved to a yet to be determined site. The bus garage area will then be used for parking during the construction. He said demolition of the existing high school and the rest of the site work will be done after the new high school is built and that work is expected to be done by the end of 2018.

The 247,879 square foot new high school will include more than 50 academic classrooms, more than a dozen science and technical labs, many small group rooms and areas, a variety of special education spaces, a large multi-purpose lecture room, three art rooms plus a kiln room, large band and choral rooms with practice space, a main gymnasium and an auxiliary gymnasium and an auditorium with stage, scene shop and dressing rooms.

According to Dumford, new high school’s design will feature an environmentally green design with high efficiency heating, air conditioning, and lighting systems; water conserving plumbing; increased indoor air quality; and use recycled and regionally obtained materials.

The $62.9 million high school will be paid for by Ohio Schools Facilities Commission funding of $29.6 million and a local taxpayer share of $33.3 million.

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