By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Madison Schools officials are considering how to deal with student overcrowding in the district.
“It’s not a surprise we are overcrowded and running out of space,” said Groveport Madison Superintendent Jamie Grube at the Oct. 26 Groveport Madison Board of Education meeting. “But we have a real good handle on the enrollment that is here. We are overcrowded, but not as overcrowded as we thought.”
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 student enrollment as of Oct. 25, 2022 is 6,351, according to district officials. As of October 2021, the district had 6,271 students. Enrollment was 5,569 in 2015-16.
Cropper GIS is updating its forecasts based on this year’s enrollment and that information is expected to be presented before the Nov. 9 board meeting.
According to district officials, the current 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).
Grube said it was previously expected the total enrollment would be over 6,500 at this point. He added it was thought the high school would have around 2,100 students now, but instead the count is closer to 1,900.
“We have to plan how to house the students we have now and also consider the projected growth,” said Grube.
Additions to 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 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.”
When asked how many additional classrooms are proposed to be built at the high school, Grube said, “This is yet to be determined. We expect to know more once Cropper GIS completes their updated projections. Our initial discussion centers on building out classrooms in some of the extended learning areas at the end of each of the wings. There is sufficient space to construct 12 classrooms within the existing footprint of the high school building.”
He said the cost of building additional classrooms at the high school is unknown right now.
“It will depend on how many rooms need to be constructed – which will be determined by the updated enrollment projections,” said Grube. “Since the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (formerly the Ohio School Facilities Construction Commission) has not yet closed out the high school’s project, we believe we should be able to use the state’s co-funded-portion of the project’s budget along with our local funds for any expansion plans related to the high school. If our request to use the state’s funds is denied, we have approximately $2.3 million in local funds remaining from the high school’s construction we can use.”
He said the earliest district officials would expect any work to begin on constructing additions to the high school would be this summer following dismissal for summer break.
Regarding the elementary and middle schools, Grube said 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.
“We expect to know more once we receive the updated enrollment projections from Cropper GIS,” said Grube regarding potential additional modulars.
The cost of additional modular classrooms is also still to be determined.
“We don’t have this information at present,” said Grube. “The district has permanent improvement funds that could be used to offset the cost of modular classroom structures.”
Another option floated for additional classroom areas would be to lease space elsewhere.
However, Grube said the district does not have anything definite regarding the potential of leasing space.
“We can’t ignore or push decisions down the road regarding overcrowding,” said Grube. “We have to make sure we have space for our kids.”
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.