Highland Facilities Update: 8/25/14
Many of us know firsthand how well our elementary school facilities have served us over the past nine decades, but these buildings are no longer conducive to our needs. The educational and financial challenges they present cannot be overlooked any longer.
The District assembled an advisory group of about 30 people including community leaders, elected officials, and parents who have been meeting over the past few months to thoroughly assess the needs of our elementary and middle school facilities.
The advisory group toured our facilities, reviewed data and assessments compiled by the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC), and discussed financial scenarios. Their final task will be to vote on a funding option and make a recommendation to the board about how it should proceed. We thank them for volunteering to serve on this very important committee.
Advisory Group members include:
- Melissa Augustine, Parent, Hinckley Township
- Jane Back, Teacher, Granger Elementary School
- Mark Barr, Project Administrator, OFCC
- Ron Bischof, Trustee, Montville Township
- Shannon Blower, Pastor, The Church at Stony Hill
- Kimberly Bolas Miller, Trustee, Sharon Township
- Mal Brooker, Brooker Insurance
- Diane Dermody, Manager, Highland Library
- Barbara Dzur, Real Estate
- Joanne Fox, Custodian, Sharon Elementary School
- LeAnn Gausman, Principal, Granger Elementary School
- Brian Guccion, Trustee, Sharon Township
- Tanya Headrick, President, Sharon PTO
- Doug Lewis, Pastor, Granger United Methodist Church
- Terri Pfister, Former President, Highland High School PTO
- Rick Pflaum, Owner, RP Sales, Inc., Sanitation and Maintenance Supplies
- Jim Reusch, Supervisor of Operations (retired), Highland Local School District
- Maribeth Rohrbaugh, Teacher, Hinckley Elementary School
- David Sambor, Trustee, Hinckley Township
- Larry Savoia, Highland Resident
- Missy Schreiner, Parent, Highland Middle & High School
- Diane Thomas, Board Member, Highland Local School District
- Chris Vozar, Building Manager, Sharon Elementary School
- Chris Wolny, Board Member, Highland Local School District
- Theresa Wright, Executive Director, The Highland Foundation
- Bernadette Yu, Teacher, Sharon Elementary School
- Jim Zawistowski, Custodian, Sharon Elementary School
Facilities Advisory Committee Findings
Highland Local School District is working on a multi-phase research process to determine the next steps regarding its aging elementary and middle school facilities. We are currently working with an advisory group of approximately 30 people including community leaders, elected officials, and parents. They have been meeting to review detailed information about the state’s assessment, discuss finances, tour the facilities, and then finally make a recommendation to the board about how to proceed. The group has been reviewing a great deal of data and has learned a ton...
Our aging elementary school and middle school buildings present educational and financial challenges
- These buildings are all over 80 years old and have served our district well, but their deteriorating conditions present ongoing challenges.
- The district has been performing emergency maintenance, but throwing good money after bad is not the best use of public dollars.
- Highland Schools is fiscally responsible and spends the lowest amount in the county for expenditures per pupil (source: ODE), but band-aid repairs take away from instructional dollars.
We are a top ranked school district, but our elementary school facilities do not meetminimum state standards.
- All 3 elementary schools and the middle school have inadequate ventilation systems, inadequate electrical systems, and undersized classrooms, in addition to many other challenges.
- Flooding, leaks, falling ceiling tiles, crumbling walls, lack of electrical capacity, and excessive temperature problems are just a few of the challenges that students and staff are confronted by regularly that distract from a positive learning environment.
- Facility experts from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) conducted a comprehensive assessment and recommend building three new elementary schools and a new middle school.
- The cost to renovate to meet state MINIMUM standards is roughly 79% of the cost to build new.
- *OFCC uses the guidelines and recommends building new when the cost to renovate a building is 66% or more of the cost to build a new structure to protect the public investment.
Providing a safe and productive learning environment is our number one priority.
- Highland Schools must uphold its mission to guarantee that each learner reaches his/her potential … in a safe and dynamic life-long learning environment.
- Doing nothing costs a lot of money. We cannot put off the facility needs any longer.
- The sales tax revenue is about $1.2 million annually and the cost to build new schools is a great deal more than the money the sales tax provides. The cost to address electrical systems and plumbing issues in Sharon alone, cost in excess of $1M.
- No decisions have been made, but we are working as a team with the schools to help make a recommendation that makes sense for all of the Highland Schools community.
A GENERAL OVERVIEW
- Facility experts from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) conducted a comprehensive assessment of the current elementary school facilities. They recommend building three new elementary schools because the cost to renovate to meet state MINIMUM standards is roughly 79% of the cost to build new.
- The cost to renovate the current elementary schools to minimum state standards is $28 million. The cost to replace the three buildings (Granger, Hinckley and Sharon) is $35 million. OFCC uses the guidelines and recommends building new when the cost to renovate a building is 66% or more of the cost to build a new structure to protect the public investment.
- Providing a safe and productive learning environment is a priority. After careful consideration, the administration and board determined it is critical that the district address these facility needs and explore the possibility of a bond issue to ensure a safe and appropriate teaching and learning environment.
- The sales tax revenue is about $1.2 million annually and the cost to build three new elementary schools is a great deal more than the money the sales tax provides, so a bond issue will be necessary to fund construction.
- Three phases of the research process have been completed – community leader interviews, four staff and teacher listening sessions, and four parent listening sessions.
- Staff expressed their firsthand concerns about the conditions of the facilities and their impact on learning, some of these conditions include:
- Inadequate and expensive boiler systems that cause excessive heat so students cannot concentrate
- Flooding and drainage problems meaning that kids have to be displaced multiple times throughout the school day
- Leaky and aging plumbing. Buckets line the hallways.
- Lack of space for today’s classroom learning, storage and technology
- Crumbling walls and ceiling tiles
- Electrical systems cannot handle classroom technology needs and retrofitting old buildings with cement block walls is pricey and often inadequate
- Facilities do not meet ADA standards
- Parents echoed these concerns but note that many people are unaware of the true conditions of these buildings.
- The next phase of the research process includes an online survey and a community telephone survey.