Grandview Heights Schools' upcoming facilities project will get a financial and educational boost, thanks to a $250,000 donation from a Grandview alumnus and his wife.

The donation from Bill and Nancy Boardman will be used to fund the creation of an outdoor learning space, district leaders said.

The area will be constructed just east of Grandview Heights High School near Third and Fairview avenues.

Bill Boardman is a 1959 graduate of the high school. He and Nancy now live in Florida.

"This is an exciting enhancement to the current site plan for our facilities project," Superintendent Andy Culp said. "Creating the outdoor learning space could not occur but for this generous donation from Bill and Nancy Boardman."

Plans call for the outdoor learning space to be installed during the second phase of the facilities project, Culp said.

The first phase, which will involve construction of a new 4-8 building in the open area between the existing Edison Intermediate/Larson Middle School and the high school, will begin in January and is expected to be completed by summer 2021.

That summer, renovations to Grandview Heights High School will begin. High school students will attend class in the new building while their school undergoes major renovations.

The high school renovation and the installation of the outdoor learning space are expected to be completed by winter 2023, when high school students will return to their school and Edison/Larson students will move into the new 4-8 building.

The Edison/Larson building then will be demolished, as will the kindergarten annex, which is adjacent to the current Edison/Larson building and playground.

Although the details remain to be determined, the outdoor learning space could include a garden and a bioretention area that could be incorporated into science and nature lessons for students in grades 4-12, Culp said.

"It will include hard seating and tables and probably covered seating," he said. "It potentially could include a solar panel that would be set up so students could learn how much energy it generates and where that energy goes."

The space would be available for students to visit during lunch and serve as a public amenity after school and on weekends, Culp said.

"It will be a gathering place as well as a learning space," he said.

Four years ago, when the district was beginning the process of evaluating its facilities with a goal of developing a master plan for the current construction project, the effort included gathering feedback from students, Culp said.

"We wanted to give students a voice in the process, and the one thing that students who participated felt was important was to have an outdoor learning space," he said.

"The most poignant takeaway for me as a teacher," said chief academic officer Jamie Lusher, "is there was a desire on the part of students to create an outdoor learning space -- and now, with the donation from the Boardmans, we can turn that dream into reality."

The Boardmans made their donation "out of great affection for the Grandview Heights school district and in honor of the class of 1959 and the significant number of Boardman family members who have attended our schools," Culp said.

The exact number of family members who have been Grandview students is difficult to calculate because some of the relatives had different last names, he said.

"Bill said he was hesitant to try to make a list because he was afraid he'd leave someone out," Culp said. "We're talking many generations of students."

Bill Boardman said he believes the district is an important part of the community and "truly unique" among public schools.

"Along with other members of the class of 1959, I have recognized this uniqueness over the years and have fond memories of the high-quality faculty and staff that helped shape our lives," he said.

The education students receive remains "amazing" and "worthy of the Grandview community's total support," he said.

When the Boardmans first approached the district about making a donation, Culp said, he and the couple began discussing what the best use of the money might be.

"Nancy and Bill decided they wanted to donate toward creating an outdoor learning space, and working with our architect, we were able to get an estimate of what the cost would be," he said.

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