Here’s the latest on the facility renovation project in Lockland Local Schools.
“I would like to take a moment to again thank the villages of Lockland and Arlington Heights for the overwhelming support of the bond issue in May 2019,” said Lockland Superintendent Bob Longworth. “Both villages supported Lockland Schools’ opportunity to move forward into the future with a beautifully renovated facility for our students. The landslide victory represented a lot of faith in our school district and we take our responsibility to do this work well and manage the community resources in a way that will make everyone proud.
In order to discuss this project, we need to go back nearly a decade to tell the story of how Lockland Schools got to where we are today.
Approximately 10 years ago, the school district realized that there was a need to focus on the facility in order to ensure that we maintain a warm safe and dry environment for students to learn.
In 2017, the district began engaging in conversations with a large group of stakeholders regarding the current state of our facilities as well as options to remedy some of the concerns. This group of stakeholders consisted of students, parents, community members, teachers and administrators. The overwhelming decision of the group was in support of complete renovation of our K-12 campus.
Partnership with OFCC
Once the desires of the community became clear, Lockland schools began working more closely with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission. The OFCC is a state partner that works with public entities to support facilities and construction projects. Many schools and districts in our area have been rebuilt or renovated with OFCC support.
Through conversation with the OFCC, it became clear that they would support a renovation project; however, they would not support a renovation project for the entire school campus. The OFCC uses enrollment trends over the last 10 years to determine how much space the district needs one building or renovating a school. While the data they were looking at did accurately represent what had happened for the last 10 years, we also realized that it was not an accurate indication of what to expect for a future based on the last three years of data that we have.
The OFCC recommendation was made for a facility approximately 80,000 sq. ft. that would allow us to accommodate approximately 460 students.
Renovation and Demolition
Currently, Lockland Local Schools enrolls nearly 600 students in grades K through 12 and we have seen increases each year over the last three years. Because of this we knew that the initial OFCC recommendation was not a good use of state or taxpayer dollars. As a result the issue that we placed on the ballot for May 2019 was specific to a facilities master plan allowing for the renovation of approximately 130,000 sq. ft. on the Lockland Schools campus.
Currently the school campus is approximately 190,000 square ft. In order to reach its number of 130,000 square ft., the renovation of our school will also entail demolition of some portions of our building. As a result, the original elementary school built in 1968 will no longer be a part of our footprint along with the natatorium which housed the swimming pool that has been closed for approximately 30 years.
In addition to the demolition of those two areas, our facility master plan calls for the complete updating and renovation of our K-12 campus including all systems such as HVAC, plumbing, electrical, roofing, security, doors, windows, etc.
Additionally, all of our IT infrastructure will be upgraded to reflect 21st-century learning standards. With the exception of the features that we are choosing to preserve for historical value, our entire school will be renovated from top to bottom.
The question that comes up most at this point is in reference to the timeline for our project. We have recently spoken with OFCC representatives along with our bond counsel and our pre-bond architects. In order to understand the timeline it is important to discuss the process as it relates to receiving state funds through the OFCC.
The good news is that the people of Lockland and Arlington Heights, along with the school district, have done everything that they can do at this point to move forward with our project. The frustrating reality at this point is that we are now at the mercy of the state with their timelines to receive the additional funding that we need to begin this work.
OFCC funds projects one time each year in July. This means that Lockland will go before committees in the spring and then again in the summer to determine whether or not the state is in a position to release the funds needed to begin planning for our project.
If the state has the funding needed to move forward with our project at that time, we will be notified formally in late summer of 2020. In the event that the state does not have the needed funds as allocated through the capital budget at the state level in July 2020, Lockland will go back to committee in July 2021 for determination of funding.
“In talking with the state, they are very hopeful that Lockland will receive the funding needed to move forward during the summer of 2020,” Longworth said.
Once we have received money from the state, only then we will begin collecting the tax that was levied as a result of the May 2019 election. The only exception to this is the one mill permanent improvement levy that was also on the ballot with the bond issue. This one mill, the equivalent of about $60,000 will be collected beginning next year and can only be used towards the facilities project once it begins.
it is very important to note some of the limitations that we have as a result of not receiving state dollars to fund our project at present time. We are not allowed to enter into any formal agreements as they relate to the construction project until state dollars have been released. We are also not allowed to contract with an architect to begin plans for our renovation project until the state dollars have been released. Because of this, our hands are tied in a lot of ways.
Opportunity for Planning
While initially this was frustrating for the district, we now realize that this creates an ideal opportunity for us to take our time and truly make important decisions that will result in a renovation that best meets the needs of not only our school district but perhaps more importantly our communities at large that supported this renovation project.
Beginning in the winter of 2020, the district will be convening stakeholder group meetings to have conversations about the vision, mission and priorities of our school district now and moving into the future. We believe that by taking the time to have these much-needed conversations, we will be in a position to design a building that truly meets the needs of our communities.
I would encourage anyone that is interested in having a voice in this process to please reach out to me directly. I can be reached via email at email@example.com or directly by phone at 513-563-5000.
“As always, thank you for your continued support of Lockland Local Schools. We are very excited about the future of our school district and also the communities that we serve. If I can ever be of assistance in anyway please do not hesitate to reach out and let me know,” Longworth shared.
Click on the link below to watch a video about our facilities project: