District targets June start for new building
New Albany-Plain Local School District officials this year will begin planning for a new school building that will open in the fall of 2014.
"We're looking forward to getting the community involved in the planning of that building," said school board President Laura Kohler.
The new non-grade specific building will house 1,200 students and will be funded by a 2.59-mill bond issue that will generate $45.1 million.
Local voters approved the bond request Nov. 6 as part of Issue 50, which also included a 4.24-mill continuous operating levy to generate $3.51 million.
Issue 50 was approved by 133 votes; the final count certified by the Franklin County Board of Elections on Nov. 27 was 4,916 votes for Issue 50 and 4,783 votes against. It will cost property owners $209 per year -- about $130 for the levy and $79 for the bond issue -- per $100,000 of assessed property value.
Superintendent April Domine said the district has made "requests for qualifications" from local architects to start the design process this year.
"With the successful passage of Issue 50, the district will now begin the journey to secure an architect with experience both in engaging the public in the planning process, as well as building innovative and flexible educational space," said district spokesman Patrick Gallaway.
The district currently is 700 students over capacity and uses two modular buildings outside the 2-5 elementary, according to district officials.
The new building will not have space for all the enrolled students expected by the 2016 school year, but Domine has said the district is working to find innovative ways to allow 300 to 400 juniors and seniors to pursue such off-campus learning opportunities as college classes and internships.
Domine said she plans to reconvene her facilities committee, a group of 16 residents, teachers and principals who first met in April and made the recommendation that the district build a facility for 1,200 students only.
Domine said the committee members would help work on the building's design in 2013.
Gallaway said district officials hope to have the building designed by spring and break ground this summer.
District officials have said the best place for the new building is between the 2-5 elementary and the middle school cafeteria.
Other 2013 goals
Over the next few months, the district also will continue to work on its goals for the current school year. They are:
* To reinvent teacher evaluations based on state standards. Kohler said the new system will include student observation and assessments of progress.
* To engage the community and students to improve the school's culture, which includes diversity training and anti-bullying programs, Kohler said.
* To improve communications so community members feel informed and engaged. Kohler said this could include mass phone calls, first used in the November election. She said Domine was able to talk about the district's plans and goals to more than 800 people who participated in the call sessions.
"We want to expand and implement strategies to ensure all members of the New Albany community feel informed and engaged in regular opportunities for two-way dialogue with the district," Gallaway said.
* To improve student achievement, using the Common Core State Standards Initiative and national and international benchmarks.
* To focus on global and international studies, including use of the International Baccalaureate program and the addition of more world language classes.
The board added two more goals after its Aug. 25 retreat:
* To make every effort to inform the community of the facts and the importance of the successful approval of the combined operating levy and bond issue on the Nov. 6 ballot. This goal was completed.
* To continue board development and continuous improvement with a second professional development work session before July 2013. The retreat has not yet been scheduled.