The Whitehall school district and concerned citizens have joined forces to explore an opportunity that could mean five new school buildings in the not-too-distant future.
The district is being included by the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) in its Classroom Facilities Assistance Program.
The OSFC, created in 1997 as an independent state agency, provides funding and technical assistance to school districts for renovations and/or new construction. Whitehall ranks 234 of 612 districts, which is based on property values. Districts with the lowest property values are funded first.
After assessing the conditions of all buildings, OSFC recommended demolition and new construction. Renovation costs would be more than two-thirds of the cost of replacement. The state would pick up 62 percent of the cost approximate $65 million cost. The community would have to approve a bond issue for 38 percent.
During a meeting November 28, the team set the wheels in motion for the community engagement process.
In January individuals will be hosting "coffees" for friends and neighbors to test the waters for support of a bond issue.
Representatives from the school board, administration and teachers will attend the sessions to answer questions about the district and its school buildings. At the same time, they will welcome concerns and input from the attendees.
The committee is organized into four subgroups to thoroughly process the information. A web site and email network are planned, and focus groups will be targeted for larger forums, such as senior citizens, parents, businesses, churches and community service organizations.
The first three coffees are scheduled in January. Anyone interested in hosting one of the meetings, can contact Brian Hamler, director of administrative services, at 417-5003. Average size of the gatherings is 10-15 guests.
The next committee meeting will be Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. in the Whitehall Yearling High School library. Those interested in attending can call Patty Bridges at 417-5002, as space is limited.