By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Madison Schools officials are eager for work to begin on the district’s new high school, but financial and organizational steps must be completed first.
“It’s a lengthy process,” said Superintendent Bruce Hoover.
The $62.9 million, 230,000 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 state funding will be available to the district by July 28.
Groveport Madison Treasurer Tony Swartz said the district is on target to start selling $33.3 million in 38-year bonds for the project by August. Swartz added the district needs to update its bond rating.
“The district hasn’t had any bond debt since the 1970s,” said Swartz. “So we have to start from scratch to update the rating.”
The district expects to have an architect for the project by the end of August. According to Chipiga, after the architect is in place, a construction manager and general contractor will be selected.
Hoover said project design committees will begin work in September. Also, the district will meet with local leaders in June to get ideas on the programs and services they would like to see in the new high school. Plus, in September, a community development committee – made up of local businesses, church and civic leaders – will gather to discuss how to build partnerships with the district and ways to engage students in service and career opportunities.
Kim Magovac of the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission estimated the design phase of the new high school project could take 14 to 18 months to complete.
“We want to maximize our money to get the most facility we can,” said Hoover.
Board member Nancy Gillespie said she wants the district to avoid constructing school buildings like Middle School North and Middle School South, which were built in the 1970s.
“I don’t want to build the cheapest building we can get. We already did that before. The middle schools, with their open classroom design are not durable and do not work educationally,” said Gillespie. “I do not want to build something we cannot afford, but we need to build a school that works well educationally for many years.”
Chipiga said the district will have to decide whether to begin construction of the the new high school 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.