Now that Superintendent Andy Culp has presented his recommendation of a plan to address the Grandview Heights City School District's facility needs, the next step is to home in on the actual costs of that option before the school board votes on a potential ballot issue to fund it.
Culp recommended at the Sept. 19 board meeting that the district renovate the existing high school and elementary school buildings while constructing a new building for students in grades 4-8 on the existing site of Edison Intermediate/Larson Middle School.
"This option I, as superintendent, fully support and I feel it is the best option for the short- and long-term fiscal security of the district," Culp said.
The plan also "honors the uniqueness of the physical location of our existing schools and the beauty of the existing aesthetics" and "the historic legacy of our buildings while also infusing a new building for our 4-8 grade (students)," he said.
"This is a plan that was widely embraced by our community" based on the data gleaned from the input of residents and staff through meetings, surveys and other engagement efforts, Culp said.
A financial advisory committee will be formed by the school board and district leadership, he said.
The committee most likely will be composed of eight to 10 community volunteers, all of whom will have CEO or CFO experience "and proven leadership and understanding about being able to analyze big-picture financial forecasts and data," Culp said in an interview after last week's board meeting.
The estimated cost of the proposed facilities option is $45 million to $50 million, which includes about $2.4 million for the potential swing space needed during construction of the new 4-8 building, he said. Those estimates are based on Ohio Facilities Construction Commission standard pricing.
An additional estimated $2 million would be needed to fund proposed renovations to the K-12 athletics facilities north of the high school.
The proposed plan for the athletics facilities includes renovating the existing locker rooms and restrooms and building an additional locker room and restroom facility; making the home and visitor stands ADA-compliant; completing repairs to the track; and adding new exterior fencing, security lighting and asphalt.
The improvement plan for the athletics facility was part of the middle option of three potential choices presented to the public, and the one that received the most support from the community, Culp said.
The option for the school buildings also was the one most favored by residents, parents and staff members among seven initial and then three final plans presented at two community engagement meetings, he said.
The finance advisory committee will be asked to "dig into" several questions and provide recommendations and information, Culp said, including:
* How should the district fund the recommended plans for the school buildings and athletics facilities?
* Should the project be completed all at once or in phases?
* Is swing space needed and if so, in what form?
* What will the project cost, what should the size and scope of a ballot issue be, and what will that issue cost residents?
* Should the district's existing permanent-improvement fund be maintained or increased?
The permanent-improvement fund provides about $540,000 annually to the district, half of which is earmarked for technology improvements.
The facilities assessment completed in spring 2016 identified about $44.5 million in deferred building-maintenance needs.
The financial advisory committee will work between January and March 2018 and present its findings at the April 2018 school board meeting.
The board will be asked to approve the facilities plan at that meeting, including the exact price tag for the project and the cost to residents, Culp said.
In May, the board plans to consider approval of a potential funding issue for the November 2018 ballot, presenting residents with the full details of the proposed project and issue six months before they would be asked to vote, he said.
The selection of materials and inflation could affect the final cost of the project, school board President Jesse Truett said.
If the district decides to complete the project in phases, that also could affect the cost, he said.
The $45 million to $50 million cost estimate assumes the project would be completed in 2021, Truett said.
"My concern is that we balance the burden on the taxpayer (while making sure) not to be penny-wise and pound-foolish" in executing the project, he said.
Not looking at the larger financial picture "is one of the things we want to avoid," Culp said.
"We will want to vet all of the scenarios out" when planning a potential project, he said.