By Rick Palsgrove
It’s out with the old and in with the new as the Groveport Madison Board of Education unanimously decided not to keep and reuse the high school’s existing gymnasium and auditorium as part of the new high school construction project.
The board made the decision on Aug. 27 while reviewing three options regarding gymnasiums and an auditorium to go with the new high school.
“The responsible thing to do is to say ‘goodbye’ to the old building entirely and build all new,” said board member Nathan Slonaker.
The board considered the following options before making its decision:
•Option 1: Keep and reuse the existing 10,725 square foot, 900 seat high school gym and 10,000 square foot, 750 seat auditorium as a free standing structure and spend $3.5 million in local funds to add electrical, mechanical, and ADA approved restrooms.
This option would have given the school three gyms since two gyms are already planned for under the Ohio School Facilities Commission funding.
“This option would not renovate those existing spaces,” said Superintendent Bruce Hoover, who added it is also important for band and performing arts classrooms to be situated around an auditorium, which would not be possible by keeping the existing auditorium.
High school principal Aric Thomas said this option would also not repair the underground sewer line problems.
“The old lines are failing and starting to sag,” said Thomas. “Most people who visit our school only see the commons area, cafeteria, gym and auditorium. We have one shot to get this right and I am hesitant to keep areas that are already tired. New is better than old.”
Added Board President Bryan Shoemaker, “Why would we need three gyms? Plus, having an existing free standing structure (in the middle of the campus) would hinder the site plan for the new construction.”
Hoover said the district could also run into an “embarrassing” problem if it saves the old gym and auditorium and then has to do a major repair in the future, such as tearing up flooring to repair a sewer line.
•Option 2: Build a state co-funded 14,000 square foot, 1,742 seat gym, a 7,000 square foot auxiliary gym with no seating, and a locally funded $3.5 million, 500 to 600 seat, 10,000 square foot auditorium in the new high school. (The Ohio Schools Facilities Commission monies only fund providing a stage, not a full auditorium.)
•Option 3: Build a state co-funded 14,000 square foot, 1,742 seat gym, a 10,000 square foot auxiliary gym (this larger auxiliary gym would cost between $720,000 to $1 million in local funds) and a locally funded $3.5 million, 500 to 600 seat 10,000 square foot auditorium.
Groveport Madison Athletic Director Steve Petros said the added gym space would enable the district to add revenue by hosting sectional tournaments and other events.
“Our school is in a good, accessible location to attract events that would provide athletic revenue to the district,” said Petros.
Petros said the added gym space would enable the district to better schedule physical education classes, team practices and games.
“We will be able to have things going on at the same time instead of staggering times to use them,” said Petros. “Right now we also have to spread out and use all the gyms in the district (high school and the three middle schools). We won’t regret planning for the extra space.”
Board member Nancy Gillespie asked Petros how much support athletics have in the district and Petros responded, “I think that’s how we passed the levy and bond issue. Our kids deserve as much in the way of nice facilities as the other area schools and they’ve waited a long time for it.”
Hoover said the district has $7 million available in locally funded initiative money to use for things the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission does not pay for. Of that, $3.5 million could be spent on the new auditorium and another $1 million for a larger auxiliary gym.
“I would rather see the balance of the local money be used for instructional areas,” said Hoover. “Option 3 is the most expensive, and it may be the best, but I don’t want to take money from classroom space.”
The board could decide on hiring an architect for the high school project at its Sept. 10 meeting. It could also decide then on whether or not to pursue option 2 or option 3 for the gyms and auditorium, but the board can also wait before deciding to get feedback from the community and to hear the architect’s plan and recommendations.
A twist at the Aug. 24 meeting arose when Kim Magovac of the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission told the board that construction of the new high school might not be completed until June 2018. The board appeared surprised to hear this as that date is different from earlier projections which had the school opening by possibly by late 2017. Magovac said it could take 14 to 18 months to complete the design phase and two years to construct the school.
The new $62.9 million, 230,000 square foot Groveport Madison 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. The new school will be built in the existing high school parking lot. Once the new high school is open, the existing high school, located at 4475 S. Hamilton Road, will be demolished.
Superintendent Bruce Hoover said the district conducted an “unscientific” online survey on the district’s website regarding the high school gym and auditorium. As of late August, there were 327 responses. Here are the results:
•46 percent favor keeping the existing gym and auditorium and 42 percent oppose.
•45 percent favor adding additional gym space and 33 percent oppose.
•72 percent favor bigger auxiliary gym and 12 percent oppose.
•73 percent favor new auditorium and 17 percent oppose.
•67 percent favor having the new auxiliary gym and the new auditorium available for public use while 20 percent oppose.
•36 percent favor new auditorium with no additional gym space while 44 percent oppose.
•28 percent favor that the district consider only projects co-funded by the state while 34 percent oppose.