By Rick Palsgrove
The Groveport Madison Board of Education is considering approval of an architect’s contract for facility planning as well as when to accept funding from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission for potential new schools.
“It’s unknown at this time whether we will renovate, expand, or replace our existing elementary and middle schools,” said Groveport Madison Communications Director Jeff Warner. “That is the purpose of the facilities assessments and master planning process – using the OFCC framework.”
At its Feb. 9 meeting, the board approved using SHP Architects for facility planning and on Feb. 23 district officials presented the board with the architect’s contract. According to the proposed contract, SHP Architects would: review and update assessments of existing schools in the district; assist with the analysis of enrollment projections; facilitate advisory team meetings; research existing site information on properties owned by the district as well as potential new building sites; facilitate the development of the district’s Master Facilities Plan and locally funded facility plan options; and engage with the community to share facility and site conditions, needs and opportunities, and identify Master Facilities Plan preferences all at a cost of $48,000.
Additionally, according to the proposed contract, SHP Architects would participate in formulating an educational vision to identify where the district wants to be relative to trends in education, how the district might respond to the Ohio Department of Education’s Strategic Plan for Learning, and identify how new or renovated learning spaces can support the above mentioned items at a cost of $7,000.
The board could consider the contract for approval at its March 9 meeting.
The board already approved contracting with Cropper GIS for a demographic and capacity/utilization study of the district at a cost of $35,500. This work is now underway. It is anticipated the demographic study can take eight to 10 weeks to complete. It will take about three weeks for a capacity report. The utilization needs assessment could be done in one to two weeks.
Making the Master Facilities Plan
Groveport Madison Superintendent Garilee Ogden said the OFCC contacted the district to see if it wants to accept funding now. But she said if the district accepts the funding now it would have to have its Master Facilities Plan completed by mid-May.
“This mirrors exactly what we did the last time with the bond issue that did not pass because we felt like we were too rushed,” said Ogden. “It is frustrating. If we accept funding now we have to have our entire facilities planning done in two months.”
Plus the OFCC would have to approve funding.
She said the district would have to figure out its building attendance boundary realignment and prepare a campaign for three potential election cycles to try and pass a bond issue.
Ogden said even though “we need new buildings and I will never say we don’t need new buildings,” she recommended the district not take the OFCC funding at this moment due to the timing. She said feedback from the community is needed as well as a bigger process involving people and maintaining transparency for the public.
She added Groveport Madison is at the top of the OFCC’s list for segmented projects “so it is likely that they will come to us next January again with funding even if we say ‘no’ right now.”
The board could consider on whether or not to accept the OFCC funding now at its March 9 meeting.
Ogden said, once the SHP Architects contract is approved, facility analysis, community engagement, and educational visioning can begin. After that, discussions about facilities planning, what the new schools could look like, where the buildings would be, what the community wants, building grade configurations, and building attendance boundaries can take place as well as informing the community about the Master Facilities Plan. (The building attendance boundaries do not refer to the entire district’s actual boundary. It refers to the attendance boundaries within the district for each individual school building regarding which school building students attend based on where they reside.)
She said a completed Master Facilities Plan and a board resolution for the OFCC would be needed by April 2023 in order to receive funding approval from the OFCC.
A bond issue for new buildings could appear on the November 2023, May 2024, or August 2024 ballot.
Ogden noted the bond issue must pass by August 2024 or else the district would have to reapply for OFCC funding.
She also noted 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.
Buildings’ capacity and enrollments
As of October 2021, the district had 6,271 students. In comparison, enrollment was 5,569 in 2015-16.
Warner said overcrowding is the central issue facing the district, but other factors to be considered in the facilities planning process include the age, condition, efficiency, adaptability, and cost to maintain the existing elementary and middle schools.
To deal with student overcrowding, 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.
Here are the capacity and enrollments (as of December 2021) for Groveport Madison’s elementary and middle schools (a new 240,000 square foot, 1,500 student high school opened in 2018):
•Asbury Elementary – Built in 1963 with additions in 1968 and 1969. Enrollment, 476. Functional capacity, 425.
•Dunloe Elementary – Built in 1967 with additions in 1968 and 1969. Enrollment, 448. Functional capacity, 425.
•Glendening Elementary – Built in 1968 with addition in 1974. Enrollment, 455. Functional capacity, 425.
•Groveport Elementary – Built in 1923. Enrollment, 417. 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, 354. Functional capacity, 425.
•Sedalia Elementary – Built in 1969 with addition in 1974. Enrollment, 562. Functional capacity, 446.
•Middle School North – Built in 1975. Enrollment, 495. Functional capacity, 425.
•Middle School South – Built in 1975. Enrollment, 466. Functional capacity, 425.
•Middle School Central – Built in stages as a high school between 1952-56. Enrollment, 448. Functional capacity, 425. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.
However, since December, Warner said now every building in the district, except for Madison Elementary, is over capacity.
(Functional capacity is 85 percent of original design capacity and reflects modern requirements for classroom space and programming. Source: Groveport Madison Schools.)