Hilliard City Schools administrators plan to work with a steering committee to identify options for facility improvements and operations for school board members to consider as they prepare to ask for an operating levy in November.

They also want to hear from residents via a survey planned this week.

"Our goal is to have some options (by the end of March) so the board can begin to consider what a bond ask would look like in November," Superintendent John Marschhausen said.

District administrators and steering-committee members are considering dozens of scenarios and options for a master facilities plan.

"Internal teams and the steering committee are going through a whole host of options at the building level," Deputy Superintendent Mike McDonough said.

Board members got a glimpse of those scenarios and options at a six-hour planning retreat Jan. 27, at which discussion of the master facilities plan lasted about 45 minutes.

"Once we dial in (a plan), we can dive into the costs," said Lee Hwang, geographic-information systems director for the Cooperative Strategies consulting firm, as he summarized the process for board members.

The district has worked with Cooperative Strategies for a few years, according to McDonough.

"We began our partnership with Cooperative Strategies in the fall of 2015 in conjunction with our facilities task force at the time," he said. "Every year, they provide us with enrollment projections, subdivision-yield analysis, student-potential analysis based on new developments, and they provide our online attendance-area and boundary-maps search tool."

This year, those annual demographic services will cost the district $31,495.50, McDonough said.

Meanwhile, the support and work the firm will provide for the master facility plan will cost the district $67,760, he said.

Hwang told board members the district "is in a great place," because unlike many other districts, enrollment, projections and other factors are well-identified, putting Hilliard "ahead of the game" when choosing preferred "scenarios and options" from the master plan.

A scenario is a set of mutually exclusive, either-or outcomes of which only one is possible, Hwang said, whereas options are possible in combination with others or even with one or more scenarios.

The master plan has two scenarios, one of which has several suboptions, and 30 facility options.

One scenario calls for the construction of the district's third sixth-grade building at a site to be determined. Hilliard Station and Hilliard Tharp are the district's current sixth-grade buildings.

The other scenario offers five suboptions concerning how to house students in kindergarten through fifth grade, including applying the district's campus model at Britton and Norwich elementary schools to other buildings.

At the start of the 2020-21 school year, district leaders will implement a campus plan in which students in kindergarten through the second grade attend Britton and those in third through fifth grades attend Norwich.

Among the multiple facility options are renovations or, in some instances, the rebuilding of schools.

Options include rebuilding Avery, Beacon, Brown, Ridgewood and Scioto Darby elementary schools and Station Sixth Grade School; renovations at each building, except Ridgewood, also are proposed options.

Another option is to consolidate J.W. Reason Elementary School, closing the school and distributing its attendance to adjacent schools. The site would be sold.

Other options include maintenance at multiple buildings and a building addition at Tharp Sixth Grade School.

Avery Elementary School opened in 1960, Beacon Elementary School in 1968, Britton Elementary School (as a junior high school) in 1967, Brown Elementary School in 1965, J.W. Reason Elementary School in 1958, Ridgewood Elementary School in 1961 and Scioto Darby Elementary School (the site of the original high school) in 1963.

"Nothing is set in stone; (the master facility plan) is a living document that shifts," Hwang said.

The master plan is a "great first step" but only one "in a multistage process" as the district considers aging infrastructure, board President Mark Abate said Jan. 29.

"(The administration and steering-committee members) did a lot of work to consider all the challenges and options," Abate said.

He said he anticipates the board would identify short-, medium- and long-term visions.

"In the short term, by March, I expect there will be two or three options for the board to debate concerning some immediate decisions needed relative to infrastructure, capacity and programming," Abate said.

The district will offer a community survey about the master facility plan starting Feb. 5 and extending through Wednesday, Feb. 12, in advance of the next meeting of the steering committee at 6 p.m. Feb. 19 at the district's offices on Atlas Drive, said Stacie Raterman, director of communications for Hilliard schools.

The steering committee comprises staff members, students, parents and community members, she said.

The survey will be sent to district families and posted on the district's website, hilliardschools.org, and social-media accounts "for our community to take part in," Raterman said.

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