By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Madison Schools officials recently toured the district’s newly purchased building at 4500 S. Hamilton Road.
The first thing one notices when entering the building is its sheer size.
“There’s room to grow here,” said Groveport Madison Treasurer Felicia Drummey.
In March, the Groveport Madison Board of Education authorized the $3 million purchase, from Broadstone OP Ohio LLC, of approximately 11 acres that includes a 58,324 square foot building (built in 1979 with an addition in 1994) and parking areas, located at 4500 S. Hamilton Road. The property, previously used by American Electric Power, is across the road from Groveport Madison High School. Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) federal stimulus funds were used to purchase the building.
“It’s a bargain for the amount of land and building involved,” said Drummey. “And we all love a bargain.”
“It’s a beautiful building with exciting possibilities for the district,” added Groveport Madison Board of Education President LaToya Dowdell-Burger. “There is space to expand to suit the needs of our students.”
The intention is to make the site the new home of the district’s bus garage as well as its Cruiser Accel program. (According to Groveport Madison Schools, Cruiser Accel is an alternative pathway to college and career readiness. It is designed for students for whom the traditional high school pathway is not working. Students who are disengaged, distracted, and/or deficient in the skills needed to succeed and struggle to succeed in what has been known as the traditional school setting.)
Groveport Madison Superintendent Jamie Grube said the cost to remodel the bus garage portion of the building will also be paid out of ESSER funding. The cost to remodel the section housing Cruiser Accel will be paid out of the district’s general fund.
“We hope to do a lot of the work on the Cruiser Accel portion internally,” said Grube.
The remodeling costs for both the bus garage and Cruiser Accel are still to be determined. Grube said the plan is to open Cruiser Accel in the building in August 2023 and the bus garage in August 2024.
The bus garage, to be located in the southeast portion of the building, will take up around 6,000 square feet of the structure (this excludes an existing metal building for shop/mechanics.) It has access to the large parking lot for the buses. This parking lot is asphalt paved over 12 inches of concrete, according the Groveport Madison Director of Business Services Chris Reed. There is also room to expand the bus lot if necessary.
Cruiser Accel, to be located in the northeast part of the building, will use about 5,000 square feet for open classroom space. A cafeteria will use approximately 1,000 square feet. Restroom and conference/office space will fill about 800 square feet and the lobby will be around 1,300 square feet.
The remaining roughly 45,900 square feet in the western part of the building will be unused for now while district officials determine its future use. This area includes many rooms of various shapes and sizes – some quite large and some office sized – that are adaptable for different uses. Many of the building’s rooms have wiring and features that make them flexible for a variety of technological uses. This part of the building features 12 inch thick walls and blast doors. There are also kitchen areas.
Grube said this remaining space could be used in the future for “new programs, new partnerships, and other things we could not do before. There is so much potential and so much flexibility.”
“There are not yet specific plans for using the remainder of the building,” added Groveport Madison Communications Director Jeff Warner. “However, its flexible layout and abundance of technology upgrades give us the ability to consider an array of future uses. While not on the immediate horizon, we’re excited to explore how the space could be used to support additional partnerships with the community, businesses, other educational institutions, etc.”
However, according to district officials, the space available at this building does not solve the problems with the district’s overcrowded classroom space.
“Based on our initial assessment of the new building, it would not appear to provide academically appropriate space to serve as an elementary school or middle school,” said Warner. “We expect to continue discussions with the community with respect to addressing overcrowding and replacing outdated schools.”