By Rick Palsgrove
The process to construct Groveport Madison’s new high school is in its early stages.
The $62.9 million, 235,000 square foot 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.
Eugene Chipiga of the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission said the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission is expected to approve Groveport Madison’s master facility plan on July 10 and then the state funding will be available to the district by July 28.
Groveport Madison Treasurer Tony Swartz said the district expects to start selling bonds for the project in August.
Chipiga said a committee of two Groveport Madison representatives and two OSFC representatives will select an architect for the project by the end of August.
“Architects are hungry right now so you’ll get a lot of proposals,” Chipiga told the Groveport Madison Board of Education at its May 28 meeting.
According to Chipiga, after the architect is in place, a construction manager and general contractor will be selected. He said the design phase of the project should begin by September or October. He estimated the design phase could take 14 to 18 months to complete.
“It’s a pretty big school at 235,000 square feet,” said Chipiga. “It’s a significantly large building. Once on board, the architect will be able to provide a confirmed project schedule.”
Chipiga said the district will have to decide whether to begin construction of the building in the fall of 2015 or spring of 2016.
District officials have stated they hope to open the new high school by the fall of 2017.
Groveport Madison Superintendent Bruce Hoover said public input on the project will be sought for decisions on what aspects of the project will be locally funded and also during the design phase.
Chipiga said the new high school could trigger a rise in enrollment at the school. He noted Whitehall Schools’ enrollment rose by 300 students after it built its new school.
Hoover said it is “hard to tell” how much the new high school will affect Groveport Madison’s enrollment.
“Our district has a fairly transient population,” said Hoover. “A lot depends on housing availability, birth rates and family stability. We expect our enrollment to be steady.”
Hoover said there are about 1,200 students in the grade K-12 age range who live in the Groveport Madison district but who attend community, charter or private schools.
“Some of those students could come back to Groveport Madison,” said Hoover.
Master Facility Plan
Earlier this spring, the Groveport Madison Board of Education approved a master facility plan to possibly replace all 10 of its school buildings in phases over a period of years.
“This was a formality to keep funding options open for the distant future,” said board member Nathan Slonaker at the time. “This is a framework plan that would need much community input before we took any other steps.”
The estimated $166 million master facilities plan – with $78 million as the local taxpayer share of the cost and $88 million from the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission – calls for replacing the 10 existing buildings in four phases: phase one – a new high school; phase two – two new middle schools; phase three – two new elementary schools and phase four – two new elementary schools.
In addition to the new high school, the master facility plan calls for potentially building four, 681 student, 79,000 square foot, elementary schools for grades PK-5 at $17.5 million each; and two 719 student, 101,000 square foot, middle schools for grades 6-8 at $22.4 million each sometime in the future. If the plan is fulfilled, it would reduce the number of buildings in the district from 10 to 7. The district currently has one high school, three middle schools and six elementaries.
The board can revise the plan’s scope, order of construction, and timing whenever it wants to in the future as needed.
“There is flexibility to change the master facility plan when the board desires,” said Hoover. “It’s not locked in. It could be years down the road before the various phases are enacted.”
Hoover noted bond issues would have to be approved by the voters before any new construction could take place.
Hoover said the repair costs for all 10 existing school buildings exceed 50 percent of the total cost to replace them. He said, because of this, the district does not qualify for OSFC funding for repairs because it would be cheaper to replace the buildings than repair them. He noted the estimated cost to repair all the buildings is $185 million.
According to the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission, here are the estimated costs to repair each building and the total potential cost to abate (remove asbestos) and then demolish each building:
•Asbury Elementary, built in 1963 with additions in 1968 and 1969: repair cost: $14.2 million; abate/demolition cost: $240,055.
•Dunloe Elementary, built in 1967 with additions in 1968 and 1969: repair cost: $14.8 million; abate/demolition cost: $382,630.
•Glendening Elementary, built in 1968 with an addition in 1974: repair cost: $11.7 million; abate/demolition cost: $325,065.
•Groveport Elementary, built in 1923 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009: repair cost: $17.3 million; abate/demolition cost: $1.7 million.
•Madison Elementary, built in 1967 with additions in 1968 and 1969: repair cost: $14.1 million; abate/demolition cost: $358,765.
•Sedalia Elementary, built in 1969 with an addition in 1974: repair cost: $11.7 million; abate/demolition cost: $354,644.
•Middle School North, built in 1975: repair cost: $17.7 million; abate/demolition cost: $561,627.
•Middle School South, built in 1975: repair cost: $17.5 million; abate/demolition cost: $517,340.
•Middle School Central, built in stages between 1952-56 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009: repair cost: $18.7 million; abate/demolition cost: $738,603.
•High School, built in stages between 1966-71 with an addition in 1975: repair cost: $41.7 million; abate/demolition cost: $1 million.
“I’m not in favor of ever demolishing Groveport Elementary or Middle School Central,” said board member Mary Tedrow. “Demolishing those buildings would upset people.”
Chipiga said the district could choose to repurpose the two schools for non-educational uses – such as for school administrative offices or community use. For example, Canal Winchester Schools repurposed their historic high school as the district’s administration building.
Hoover said the board will have to make decisions in the future on what parts of the master plan to pursue and what actions to take on specific buildings. He noted problems North Union Local Schools ran into when that district tried to save one of its old school buildings.
“Everyone wants to save their historic schools,” said Hoover. “Then they see the cost to abate and renovate. In North Union it would have cost $600,000.”
But Hoover added in reference to Groveport Elementary and Middle School Central, “We love those buildings and we’ll explore possibilities in the future on how to repurpose them for administration or any other potential repurposing options.”