By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Madison Schools officials recently received updated student enrollment projections and will use the information to determine how to address overcrowding issues in the district.
One issue is determining the cost and finding funds to create more space at the high school.
Earlier this year the district contracted with Cropper GIS Consulting for a school capacity study and an enrollment demographic study at a cost of $35,500. Also, as part of the Master Facilities Plan process, the board also approved contracting with SHP Architects for $77,000 for facility planning regarding the potential renovation, expansion, or replacement of the district’s existing elementary and middle schools.
The district’s current student enrollment is 6,351, according to district officials. As of October 2021, the district had 6,271 students. Enrollment was 5,569 in 2015-16. Total enrollment is expected to rise to 6,652 by 2029-30.
According to district officials, here is the current, updated enrollment per school building (building classroom capacity is in parentheses): Asbury Elementary: 488 (385); Dunloe Elementary: 492 (444); Glendening Elementary: 477 (480); Groveport Elementary: 464 (408); Madison Elementary: 354 (359); Sedalia Elementary: 629 (456); Middle School Central: 467 (463); Middle School North: 510 (583); Middle School South: 467 (485); High School: 1,889 (1,500).
Making space at the high school
According to district officials, the original design capacity for the new high school was set at 1,500, based on the Ohio School Facilities Construction Commission’s Facilities Master Plan (which included OSFCC enrollment projections). When the OSFCC shared its enrollment projections, the board and the district’s administration disagreed with the OSFCC, believing their projections to be substantially low, especially at the high school.
“Despite the districts objections, the high school was constructed for 1,500 students,” said Groveport Madison Superintendent James Grube in an interview. “Knowing there were already 1,900 plus high school schools enrolled before its opening, the district spent a portion of its local share of the project’s budget on upgrading the foundation and HVAC components of the building to accommodate a future addition to the front of the southeast wing of the school.”
Grube said discussion centers on building out classrooms in some of the extended learning areas at the end of each of the school’s wings. He said there is space to construct 12 classrooms within the existing footprint of the high school building.
Groveport Madison Communications Director Jeff Warner said there is almost $5 million in funds left over from the high school construction project. Of this amount $2.4 million is the district’s local share and $2.6 million is the state’s share.
“We believe we should have those funds,” said Warner.
However, the OFCC considers the project closed and rejected releasing the remaining state funds to the school district.
Warner said the district also has about $1 million in its permanent improvement fund available.
The Groveport Madison Board of Education approved obtaining estimates for potentially constructing more space at the high school.
Warner said the project to create additional space at the high school would entail converting existing space within the building’s wings. He said the work could be done this summer.
Regarding the elementary and middle schools, it is not yet determined how many additional modular classrooms will be needed. Currently the district has 24 modular classrooms in use, including a single quad-classroom unit at Groveport Elementary, two double-classroom units at Asbury Elementary and Dunloe Elementary, and six double-classroom units at Sedalia Elementary.
The cost of additional modular classrooms is still to be determined. Warner said the modulars would most likely be leased and that the northern part of the district is in the most need of space.
A potential bond issue to fund new buildings could appear on the November 2023, May 2024, or August 2024 ballot. A bond issue must pass by August 2024 or else the district would have to reapply for OFCC funding.
The district’s five year renewal general operating levy is tentatively scheduled for the November 2024 ballot as that is latest date it can be approved for the district to start collecting money in 2025.