SWCS makes headway with facilities project

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The South-Western City School District is moving forward with a possible $325 million development project.

At the March 10 Board of Education meeting, board members unanimously approved a resolution that allows the district to enter into negotiations with a design firm that will assist the district in developing a facilities project. Eleven firms submitted qualification statements but the board chose Steed Hammond & Paul.

"Our relationship with Steed Hammond & Paul has been good in the past," said Vice President Greg McCarty. "I expect nothing but the best from them."

In January, the board passed a resolution authorizing the district to issue requests for statements of qualifications from design professionals. The architectural firm will review educational plans, school size, geography, school enrollment and zoning issues.

The Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) has offered the district 47 percent of the money to fund a $325 million project which could build new schools, remodel existing schools or demolish older schools. The district said the project could also eliminate modular units, provide all-day kindergarten, update laboratory facilities and provide air conditioning.

The district was originally slated to receive OSFC funding in 2012 but as a result of a tobacco settlement on the state level, the commission has bumped up SWCS.

In order to receive the funds for the 2008-09 school year, the district will need a new master plan by June. The OSFC’s original assessment, completed in 2004, will be updated and the buildings will be evaluated by an OSFC contracted team. According to SWCS, the master plan is a blueprint for the physical environment  in which the district operates, bringing all facilities for all students up to the OSFC design manual standards whether the facilities are new, renovated or additions.

Superintendent Dr. Bill Wise explained the district and Steed Hammond & Paul will also need to determine the scope of the work.

"We need to work together to determine what belongs in the master plan," Wise said.

At this time, the board of education has not made a commitment regarding the $325 million funding opportunity but they are exploring options.

"It would be irresponsible for us not to look into it," said Sandy Nekoloff, executive director of communications for the district.

If the board moves forward with the facilities project, they would likely need to pass a bond issue. The district plans to hold community and staff discussions regarding the topic sometime this spring.

In other news

•Grove City resident Rick Redfern asked the board why the district does not place policy and procedures on their Web site. He said he brought the issue up in November but has heard nothing regarding the issue.

Redfern said other districts place this information on their sites but you have to pay for it in SWCS.

"Can we please make effective use of our Web site?" asked Redfern who noted that the Westerville City School District has their policies listed in PDF form on their Web site.

Nekoloff said the district is in the process of updating their Web site.

•The board introduced Matt Jordan at the meeting as the new head football coach at Grove City High School.

Jordan comes to the district from Painsville, Ohio.

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