WESTERVILLE CITY SCHOOLS FACILITIES PLANNING
Last year, while participating in a process to update the district's Strategic Plan, our community indicated it was time to give some attention to school facilities. In response, the district convened an ad-hoc Facilities Committee comprised of parents, community members, business representatives, municipalities, district support organizations, and district staff.
The Facilities Committee met seven times since July 2017 to analyze aging infrastructures, student enrollment forecasts, current & anticipated curriculum, and building safety & security. Following its analysis, the committee issued recommendations to the Board of Education regarding district facility needs over the next 10 years.
The committee organized its recommendations into three categories:
- Rising to the "Critical" category was work on Westerville South High School (renovations or rebuilding), a new middle school to address capacity issues, and districtwide safety/security initiatives.
- "Important" work includes renovations and expansion of Longfellow and Whittier elementary schools, renovations to Hawthorne Elementary School, the sale of Hanby & Emerson elementary schools, demolition of Central College elementary (but retain the land), and construction of a new elementary school in the southern end of the district.
- Projects recommended “When Funds Allow” include the renovation and expansion of Annehurst Elementary School, expansion of the Magnet Program and All-Day Kindergarten Program, and districtwide furniture replacement.
During their presentation to the Board, committee members acknowledged the importance of giving the community an opportunity to review and respond to their findings. They also acknowledged that the Board may modify committee recommendations based upon additional community feedback.
COMMUNITY INPUT PROCESS
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(Closes February 14, 2018)
District officials are completing a two-phase initiative to gather feedback on the committee's recommendations. The first phase, which occurs from January 2018 through March 2018, will collect initial reactions and additional input to the committee’s recommendations. District officials will use this information to determine if committee recommendations need any modification and begin building the framework of a proposed long-term facilities plan.
Seven community meetings have been scheduled to engage community members in a discussion related to Facilities Master Plan recommendations as presented by the Facilities Committee:
- McVay Elementary, Wednesday, 1/24, 6:30-8 p.m.
- Westerville South High School, Saturday, 1/27, 9-10:30 a.m.
- Hawthorne Elementary, Monday, 1/29, 6:30-8 p.m.
- Early Learning Center Board Training Room, Thursday, 2/1, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
- Alcott Elementary, Monday, 2/5, 6:30-8 p.m.
- Annehurst Elementary, Wednesday, 2/7, 6:30-8 p.m.
- Wilder Elementary, Saturday, 2/10, 3-4:30 p.m.
During these meetings, Dr. Kellogg will present information about the current state of district facilities and the findings/recommendations of the community Facilities Committee. The same information will be shared during each of these community meetings, so those interested can attend any of them as their schedule permits.
The second phase of the process will occur from March 2018 through May 2018. At that time, district officials will collect feedback on the draft plan and ideas about funding the projects.
THE TIME IS RIGHT
Some community members may be wondering, “Why it is important for this work to happen now?” There are three key reasons:
- The district can no longer complete “patchwork” projects and must address aging infrastructure issues before they become more significant. The district first explored the scope of its facility needs back in 2001 when the Ohio School Facilities Commission recommended replacing 10 buildings and addressing nearly $112 million in identified infrastructure projects. For more than 15 years, we have used bond and capital improvement dollars to address only the most critical of these needs while also maintaining the interior and exterior aesthetics of its facilities.
- Many of our elementary and middle schools exceed ideal sizes for the program offered, while at the high school level we need to address issues regarding enrollment, cafeteria size, and overall condition. Projections indicate the district will grow by 1,000 children over the next 10 years, but with a record-high enrollment of 15,321 students this school year, we are exceeding the projected annual growth rate.
- Education has changed, as has the delivery of instruction and how students function in class. Our facilities are appropriate for the “old way” of teaching and learning, so it is important that we transform classrooms and other spaces at all levels into 21st Century Learning & Teaching environments.
In 21st Century classrooms, students no longer sit in rows or work in isolation. Modern classrooms should encourage movement, promote collaboration, and integrate the use of technology. Never before has our district been in a position to modernize its classrooms and make such a positive, wide-reaching impact on the academic environment provided for students.
After years of work to improve and stabilize finances, district officials have some unique financing options available to complete recommended projects and address many of these identified needs. Moving forward with a long-range facilities plan means we can address identified infrastructure needs of our oldest buildings and complete projects that improve the interior and exterior look of our schools.
We hope you will take some time to learn more about this exciting time for our schools and participate in the process to shape these facilities projects for our district.