By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Madison Schools officials held public meetings on Nov. 13, 14, and 15 at locations around the district to share information and obtain community feedback on proposals to build new schools to replace the district’s elementary and middle schools.
In October, the Groveport Madison Board of Education directed Superintendent Garilee Ogden and Treasurer John Walsh to prepare to place on the May 2019 ballot a 6.68 mill permanent continuing operating levy to fund the district combined with a bond issue of a yet to be determined amount to fund potential new school buildings.
At the public meeting held on Nov. 15 at Middle School Central, Ogden said that, in 2012, the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission recommended the district replace all of its schools because the cost to renovate them would exceed the cost of building new. (The high school has already been replaced.)
“To bring the schools up to current standards the cost to renovate the schools would be $78 million,” said Ogden. “We could renovate them, but we’d still be in old era buildings.”
She added that, if the district opted for new buildings, it could save up to $22 million over 10 years in building system repairs, according to Dynamix, the company the district contracts with for utility and HVAC maintenance services.
Ogden cited student overcrowding, an inability to provide students with access to programs, building conditions, leaky roofs, old technology, and buildings that cannot be retro-fitted with modern safety measures as other reasons the schools need replacing.
She noted the open classroom concept built into Middle School North and Middle School South in the 1970s poses safety and learning issues.
“We must be mindful in the future not to build by adopting the latest trends, such as the open classroom concept that was popular in the 1970s,” said Ogden. “We must build to meet long term needs.”
Ogden said there are 22 modular classrooms in use in the district’s elementaries to combat overcrowding – four at Asbury, four at Dunloe, two at Groveport, and 12 at Sedalia.
Community members at the Nov. 15 public meeting told school officials these factors are important when considering new schools: safety issues, good classroom environment, schools close to where students live, good school libraries, handicap accessibility, and access to academic programs for all students.
The current five year 6.68 mill levy was passed in May 2014 and is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2019. Walsh stated the levy needs to be renewed in 2019 for collection to continue in 2020 to maintain fiscal stability for the district.
Walsh said if the levy fails in May 2019 the district would not “be destitute in 2020,” but the district’s revenue would fall dramatically after that year.
To place the levy and bond issue on the May 2019 ballot, the board must approve two resolutions in January declaring its intentions and file for the ballot by Feb. 6, 2019.
Walsh said the district most likely would still need new money in a few years and would have to place an operating levy on the 2023 ballot. If the 2019 levy is approved, the 2023 levy could be for a smaller amount.
Proposed bond issue
The levy would be combined with a bond issue of a yet to be determined amount. The bond issue would provide funding, coupled with funding from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, to build new schools to replace the district’s six elementary schools and three middle schools.
If a bond issue is approved, the OFCC would provide 53 percent of the funding and the district would fund 47 percent of the proposed projects. Groveport Madison is currently 34th on the OFCC’s priority list for funding.
The district is forming a facilities planning team that will consist of community members, parents, and district staff members. This team will study the district’s various possible building options and make a recommendation for the board of education’s consideration at the board’s January meeting. The facilities planning team will meet privately in three meetings in December.
“The facilities planning team will make a decision and recommendation based on what they find to be the most fiscally responsible and most educationally conducive school configuration plan,” said Ogden.
Other decisions that must be made regarding a building plan include potential land purchases, developing a plan for sequenced construction using swing spaces, and realigning attendance boundaries.
Groveport Madison’s elementary and middle schools:
•Asbury Elementary – Built in 1963 with additions in 1968 and 1969. Enrollment, 435. Functional capacity, 425.
•Dunloe Elementary – Built in 1967 with additions in 1968 and 1969. Enrollment, 433. Functional capacity, 425.
•Glendening Elementary – Built in 1968 with addition in 1974. Enrollment, 480. Functional capacity, 425.
•Groveport Elementary – Built in 1923. Enrollment, 424. Functional capacity, 425. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.
•Madison Elementary – Built in 1967 with additions in 1968 and 1969. Enrollment, 383. Functional capacity, 425.
•Sedalia Elementary – Built in 1969 with addition in 1974. Enrollment, 672. Functional capacity, 446.
•Middle School North – Built in 1975. Enrollment, 499. Functional capacity, 425.
•Middle School South – Built in 1975. Enrollment, 453. Functional capacity, 425.
•Middle School Central – Built in stages as a high school between 1952-56. Enrollment, 452. Functional capacity, 425. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.
(Functional capacity is 85 percent of original design capacity and reflects modern requirements for classroom space and programming. Source: Groveport Madison Schools.)