Groveport Madison school officials told Groveport Village Council at its July 21 meeting that there are no plans to demolish Groveport Elementary School.
"We’re here to put everyone’s mind at ease," said Groveport Madison Schools Superintendent Scott McKenzie, who was accompanied by School Board President Dr. Naomi Sealey.
On July 14, members of Groveport Village Council expressed unhappiness about two Ohio Schools Facilities Commission (OSFC) bond issue proposals that suggest the Groveport Madison School District demolish Groveport Elementary School in order to build a new school.
Council members noted the school district restored Groveport Elementary’s gym floor and the Groveport Heritage and Preservation Society (GHPS) refurbished the fountain in the courtyard. The GHPS is working to have the school placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The school’s auditorium has also been restored. Other improvements have been made to the 85-year-old historic school building on Main Street over the past few years, some of them funded with village dollars.
Council instructed village administration officials on July 14 to send a letter to Groveport Madison Local Schools indicating that, in the school district’s process of considering its building options, that the district contact the village about any interest in acquiring the building before the district would raze Groveport Elementary.
Groveport Madison reassures
McKenzie said the OSFC does an assessment of school district buildings and makes recommendations regarding renovation and replacement of the structures.
"They (OSFC) are unaware of the historic value of buildings or the dynamics of a community. That is up to the local school board," said McKenzie.
McKenzie emphasized the OSFC recommendations are just a starting point for discussion and that it will be up to the Groveport Madison Board of Education to make the decision on the final plans for its buildings.
"We (Groveport Madison officials) are extremely cognizant of all the wonderful things that have been done at Groveport Elementary," McKenzie said, noting the refurbished gym, the restored fountain, and the efforts of former resident Jo Akers in restoring the auditorium. "As long as Dr. Sealey and I are here, we will let council know of any talks regarding Groveport Elementary. We’ll also seek community input. We’ll take care of Groveport Elementary and, when I say ‘we,’ I mean the whole community."
Sealey emphasized the school board has not made any plans yet, but she added, "We certainly want to preserve Groveport Elementary."
Councilman Ed Dildine replied, "We, like everyone else, would like to see it preserved."
Councilwoman Jean Ann Hilbert said she appreciated McKenzie and Sealey appearing before council. She suggested the school district consider making the school home for its administrative offices.
Councilman Ed Rarey told the Groveport Madison officials to be wary of the OSFC.
"They (OSFC) are not as gracious as they appear," cautioned Rarey.
The OSFC recommendations
The Groveport Madison school board has not made any decision yet on whether or not to pursue an operating levy and/or a bond issue.
The board is considering placing a five year, 8 mill operating levy on the Nov. 4 ballot and then putting a 6 mill bond issue before the voters in 2009.
To place a levy on the Nov. 4 ballot, the board must approve a resolution of necessity and forward it to the county auditor by Aug. 15. The deadline for filing to place the levy on the ballot is Aug. 21. The board will discuss the levy further at future meetings. The board’s bond issue options are still in discussion
Monies from the proposed 6 mill bond issue would be used for new buildings, site preparations, equipping buildings, infrastructure, and renovations.
Earlier this summer, Eugene Chipiga, OSFC senior planning manager, presented drafts of two master plan building options for the district, as well as an assessment of the district’s 10 school buildings.
"If the cost to renovate a building is greater than two thirds (66 percent) of the cost to replace it, then it is recommended the building be demolished and a new school be built," said Chipiga. "It’s more expensive to renovate than to rebuild."
Another alternative to demolition is repurposing a school, such as what Canal Winchester did in converting its historic school on Washington Street into the Canal Winchester school district’s administrative offices.
The OSFC presented two proposals to Groveport Madison for consideration:
•a $134 million plan that would demolish Dunloe, Glendening, Groveport, and Madison elementaries and also the junior high; renovate and add to Asbury; renovate Sedalia; renovate and add to Middle School North and Middle School South; renovate and add to the high school so it could house 1,823 students; and build two new elementary schools that each could house around 985 students.
•a $140 million plan that would demolish Dunloe, Glendening, Groveport, and Madison elementaries as well as the junior high; renovate and add to Asbury; renovate Sedalia; renovate and add to Middle School North and Middle School South; renovate and add to the high school to house 837 students; build an additional new high school that would house 986 students; and build four new elementaries that would house around 492 students each.
Under the plans, the state would provide approximately $62 million of the funding.