I have been asked why we, as a community, chose to build two buildings instead of one. Let me fill you in on a few facts.
The OFCC (Ohio Facilities Construction Commission) is the state office that oversees new school building construction. They are also the ones who release the matching percentages for each district. That percentage is determined by the wealth or lack of in your district and the condition of your buildings. We are at a 60% state/40% local percentage.
We currently have just at 1400 students. With under 1500 students, the OFCC will only match funds for the cost of a K-12 building. To build two buildings, our community has to pick up the extra cost of two buildings over one. For Finneytown, that is about 4.6 million dollars that the state will not match so we have to pay the entire cost.
As we met last year, many options were considered. Here are the obstacles we face with one building. The Secondary Campus is our largest property. It is the only one large enough for a secondary campus or a K-12 building. The pre-bond architects have determined we could build a K-12 on the secondary campus. It would be tight, would have to be three stories, and would have limited access, but it could be done.
Roadblocks include that the county/township does not allow a 3 story building in this area. Preliminary inquiries were met with disapproval. Neighbors who back onto the property were also not in favor. Another concern for the township/county/district is the traffic and congestion on Fontainebleau. It would be double what it is currently. The congestion and lack of parking on the secondary campus are also concerns. The county previously denied an inquiry to add another light at Cherry Blossom. On the other hand, the township is in agreement with moving the Fontainebleau light to anywhere between Fontainebleau and Cherry Blossom wherever the main entrances from the Brent and Secondary properties would need to be.
There was also concern from young parents about small children being on the same campus with high school students. Those are concerns we could take care of with proper management. We cannot create more space, cannot afford to purchase land, nor can we mitigate the traffic and parking concerns on one campus. The solution became building a K-6 on the Brent property and a 7-12 on the secondary property.
Brent is the only other property that is large enough to build on. Whitaker and Cottonwood are both too small. This allows the campuses to be right across the street from each other. We will realize immediate cost savings by combining the two elementary schools. We would only have one set of elementary bus routes instead of two, etc. I could continue, but, you see what I’m saying.
Two buildings allow us room to expand in the future if needed as well. One building would not give us that capacity. So, two buildings are more expensive but meet the needs and restrictions the community is facing. It will allow us to create safe spaces conducive to teaching and learning. As it turns out, it also allows us to move forward now with the ELPP. We can start with Phase 1, the elementary building, then continue to Phase 2, the secondary building. If we had decided on one building, we couldn’t build half of a building so could not get started right away.
Tomorrow, I’ll give you a history of Whitaker, our oldest building.