Proposal: Replace current MP schools with one new building

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(Posted Nov. 29, 2022)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

The Madison-Plains facilities advisory committee is proposing that the school district replace its current buildings with one new building serving grades K-12.

Before presenting their proposal to the school board for consideration, committee members are collecting input from the public. The first of two community meetings was held on Nov. 17 in Mount Sterling. The second meeting is set for 7 p.m. Dec. 5 in the high school gym.

“This is all tentative at this point because they are waiting on feedback from the public,” said Superintendent Chad Eisler about the committee’s proposal.

The facilities advisory committee is composed of a cross-section of the community with representation from the seven townships in the school district, people of different ages and professions, and people with and without children enrolled in the schools. The group has met several times over the last several months to determine a potential course of action for the future of the district’s facilities.

The proposal
As it stands, the committee’s proposal calls for one building with two wings–one for grades K-6 and one for grades 7-12–to be built toward the back of the district’s 178-acre property at the corner of State Route 38 and Linson Road. The location would put the building on the highest ground on the property and away from the traffic on Route 38, allowing for good drainage and increased safety. Currently, the FFA chapter farms the ground.

Most or all of the current school buildings on the property would be torn down. Among them are the high school which was built in the 1970s, the intermediate school built in 1956 with an addition in 1979, and the modular units erected 12 years ago to serve the elementary students. It’s possible that the FFA farm operations would move to this portion of the property.

The committee came to this proposal after considering various options, from renovation to replacement and from a single location to multiple locations.

“They went into this process without any preconceived notion of what (the proposal) would be,” Eisler said.

“We understand that some of the people of Mount Sterling would like to see a school building in their village,” he continued. “The committee has taken data into consideration and feedback into consideration, and at this point they believe the best thing for the district as a whole and students as a whole would be to put a single building on one campus. That is the recommendation of the committee at this time.”

The benefits of a single campus, Eisler said, are that teachers could meet easily to discuss curriculum, all students would receive the same services and amenities, and operations would be more efficient and without duplication allowing for financial efficiencies.

According to district Treasurer Todd Mustain, operation of buildings on multiple campuses would cost an estimated $1.3 million more per year than operation of a single building. He also noted the cost to build one building instead of multiple buildings in different locations would save the district an estimated $2 million.

Cost and payment
The overall estimated cost for the project the committee is proposing is $72 million. For funding, the group is looking at a combination of funds from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) and a bond issue to be placed on the ballot.

The OFCC must approve projects it helps to fund. The commission places emphasis on educational spaces over areas like gyms and auditoriums. As a result, OFCC-funded projects tend to have smaller gyms and auditoriums with less seating. School districts can opt to enhance those areas on their own dime and still receive OFCC funding to offset costs of the rest of the project.

Currently, the commission estimates it could cover 9 percent ($5.5 million) of the co-funded portion of the project which would be approximately $62 million. The estimated cost to build the gym and auditorium spaces to suit the district would be another $10 million.

Mustain noted that the last time Madison-Plains passed a bond issue for facilities was 1976. He also noted that Madison-Plains is the only school district in Madison County without some sort of new facilities in recent years.

“We are well past time for needed improvements or replacements of our facilities,” he said. “The district has done its best to make sure we’re fiscally sound from an operational standpoint to put ourselves in the best position possible for facility improvements or replacements.”

He added that Madison-Plains has one of the lowest effective millage rates in the area.

Next steps
Following the public input meeting on Dec. 5, the facilities advisory committee will take into consideration the feedback they receive and finalize their proposal for presentation to the school board on Dec. 20.

“It’s up to the board to decide what they want to do with the committee’s recommendation. If they want to move forward, they will need to begin passing resolutions in January to get a bond issue on the May ballot,” Eisler said.

Timing on any type of project would depend on the district securing funding. Construction would take three to five years to complete from the time a bond issue was passed.

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