Following the passage of a levy and bond issue that will bring in $230 million to build a new high school and renovate five elementary buildings, the Upper Arlington school district intends to launch another community outreach initiative to help design those projects.
On Nov. 7, local voters passed Issue 43 by a count of 8,194 votes (55 percent) for the levy and bond, and 6,785 votes (45 percent) against, according to unofficial results from the Franklin County Board of Elections.
The ballot package includes a 3.75-mill operating levy the district says will generate approximately $6.3 million in additional annual revenue for day-to-day expenses, such as teacher salaries, instructional and pupil support, technology and transportation.
It also includes a 5.17-mill bond issue designed to bring in approximately $230 million over 38 years.
"Issue 43 allows us to maintain our current level of academic programming and to fund the first phase of the facilities master plan," Superintendent Paul Imhoff said.
Now that financing is in place, the district can move forward with the work to upgrade buildings that are, on average, 63 years old.
That will start with a "community-driven design phase," Imhoff said.
"We will be holding community meetings and reaching out to residents, staff members and students to join building-design teams and a district green team," he said. "We will also create neighbor committees for those who live near the schools to provide feedback and share ideas."
Based on current taxes, the combined levy-bond package will increase overall property taxes in Upper Arlington by 14 percent.
It will result in an increase of $312 per $100,000 of home valuation annually, as determined by the Franklin County Auditor's Office. The owner of a $400,000 home will pay an additional $1,249 in property taxes each year, according to the district.
The additional bond revenue will allow the district to move forward with the first phase of a plan to rebuild, enhance and enlarge the high school and elementary buildings.
Those projects call for:
* Rebuilding the high school to face Zollinger Road and relocating its athletics facilities on the site.
* Renovating Barrington and Tremont elementary schools; rebuilding Wickliffe and Windermere elementary schools; and rebuilding all but the 1997 and 2009 additions at Greensview Elementary.
* Addressing drainage issues and installing a turf field and baseball/softball diamonds on district-owned land behind Tremont Elementary School adjacent to Northam Park that is used by high school teams for practice and competition.
* Raising at least $5 million in private donations to offset the cost of the master plan to homeowners. This would mark the largest private fundraising campaign in the district's history.
In addition to those first-phase master plan projects, the district has committed to exploring the possibility of selling its central office and using the funds from the sale to relocate, potentially at the high school.
The strategy also calls for working with the community to identify $23 million worth of reductions to the scope of the first-phase projects.
District Chief Operating Officer Chris Potts said the Upper Arlington school board will be charged with selecting construction firms to head up each of the rebuild and renovation projects.
That process will include submission of both qualifications and proposals from the firms that will be evaluated by community volunteers on a Facilities Task Force, board members and administrators, he said.
Once a construction firm is chosen for the identified projects, it will assemble its team of subcontractors with input from the district.
Imhoff said a tentative schedule calls for renovation projects at Barrington and Tremont to begin in "early 2019" and construction of a new Windermere building to begin in fall 2020.
"A renovated Barrington and Tremont and a new Greensview and Wickliffe will open to students tentatively in the fall of 2020," Imhoff said. "While the new Windermere is being built, students from that school will be educated in the old Wickliffe building.
"Then a new Windermere and high school will tentatively open the next fall, in 2021."
All construction on the high school site will be finished by the fall of 2022, with the athletics fields and support spaces completed and the old building demolished, Imhoff said.
"The new high school, Wickliffe and Greensview will be built free and clear of the current buildings, so students will be able to continue to use the current buildings during construction," he said. "While the new Windermere is to be built on the footprint of the current building, the construction timeline allows for those students to use the current Wickliffe building while their school is under construction.
"As discussed during the master planning process, there will be a need for some classroom trailers as transitional space during the renovations at Barrington and Tremont."
Looking beyond Issue 43, the final report of the district's Financial Advisory Board recommended that the school board seek funding for the second phase of the master plan - which calls for upgrades at Hastings and Jones middle schools -- in approximately 10 years.
"The final decision will be up to the community and the board of education at that time," Imhoff said. "The recommendation was for 10 years from now."
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