Dublin Villager

Board expected to hear crowding solution Sept. 8

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A recommendation about how to deal with enrollment challenges in the Dublin City School district is expected Sept. 8.

An online survey and three public meetings have worked to garner public opinion as the district looks at options for dealing with over-capacity schools on the northwest, south and east portions of the district.

During a public meeting last week, Superintendent Todd Hoadley told community members options being examined for over-capacity elementary schools are build an elementary 13 on Bright Road or build additions onto five yet-to-be determined elementary schools.

The district has $14.5 million to use for construction that was approved by voters in a 2008 bond issue. Although legal counsel has ruled the district can use the money on construction elsewhere, it was originally intended for a 13th elementary school in the Jerome Village area. The construction of the school was put off after the recession slowed construction of new residences.

Additions of six classrooms onto each of the five yet-to-be determined elementary schools would cost about $1.5 million at each of the schools and take the district through the next five years, Hoadley said.

"When crunching the numbers, it's less expensive operationally to put additions on buildings," he said, adding it would cost about $2 million to operate a new elementary school building each year.

A new elementary school would take two years to build, but additions would offer quicker relief with about a one-year construction timeline, Hoadley said.

Capacity at Dublin's 12 elementary schools is 6,675 and enrollment in January stood at 6,837.

Projected enrollment in 2016 for elementary schools is 6,955 and as of the first day of the 2014-15 school year Aug. 20, elementary enrollment was 6,945, said Joe Riedel, an enrollment specialist for the district.

"We've gained 500 elementary students in the past five years," he said.

The additions would also leave money to add onto Jerome High School, which has a capacity of 1,300 and had an enrollment of 1,409 in January 2014.

An enrollment of 1,563 students is expected in 2016, said Ralph Feasel, district enrollment specialist.

In an online survey sent to parents during the summer, 1,600 responded and 92 percent of the respondents preferred adding onto elementary schools.

"We can only email parents and two-thirds of the community aren't parents," Hoadley said, adding that he hopes to get additional views at the public meetings.

Many attendees to last week's public meeting at Coffman High School were parents, but most showed the same support for additions rather than a new school.

"I'll make a recommendation to the board at the Sept. 8 meeting," Hoadley said. "The urgency of this is growing by the day."

While a decision on solutions for near-term problems is expected Sept. 8, Hoadley said the district is also planning for long term.

An operating levy is expected in 2016, in keeping with the district's four-year pattern, but a bond issue or permanent improvement levy could be coming in the future.

Bonds for older schools in the district will be paid off starting in 2018, so property taxes paid to the school district are expected to be reduced, Hoadley said.

"We may ask if we can keep the same millage for building a new school," he said, adding that an elementary school in Jerome Village will be needed eventually, as will an addition to a middle school.

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