ARB permits district's use of modulars for three more years
The New Albany-Plain Local School District on July 9 received a certificate of appropriateness from New Albany to retain two modular classrooms for another three years.
The certificate of appropriateness was approved 6-0, with Randolph Pierce absent, by the city's architectural review board (ARB). It does not require action by New Albany City Council, said City Planner Stephen Mayer.
The district requested a five-year extension of the certificate, originally approved in June 2007, but ARB members said a shorter term would be better.
ARB member Brian Nebozuk said he had no issue with the portable nature of the units but the colors and materials do not meet city standards.
"If it's going to be here for awhile, why doesn't it look like it's going to be here awhile?" he asked.
Superintendent April Domine said the district can remove the modulars if it is able to pass a bond issue and build a new building. The school board is considering a combined bond issue and permanent operating levy for the November ballot.
ARB member Jonathan Iten said the ARB reviews design guidelines in the city's center, where the school district campus is located.
He suggested using a shorter term for the certificate. If the bond issue doesn't pass, he said, the district could apply for another extension to retain the modulars, but it might have to reconsider the condition of the units.
"I realize you may not want to spend education dollars to pretty things up," Iten said.
Domine told the ARB the district is 100 students over capacity even with the two modulars, which sit on the west side of the 2-5 elementary building. The district also has filled the annex building on New Albany-Condit Road (state Route 605), which will need improvements to become a more permanent space.
She said the bond issue currently being considered by the school board would fund a 150,000-square-foot building that would house 1,500 students. The district is expecting more growth than that over the next 10 years, but school officials are determining other ways students can learn off campus or at different times of day -- such as evenings and weekends -- to reduce the number of students on campus at the same time.
"We are having extensive conversations about the impact of educational innovation," Domine said.
She said the district is considering digital tools for learning, along with local businesses and college sites that could be used by students.
"We need to determine when and how long students need to be on campus," she said.