FAIRBORN — The Fairborn City School District is hoping to establish new or renovated educational facilities, and is asking for community input along the way.
The district held the second of four community forums Thursday evening, in which officials presented information and asked for feedback. A tour of the Fairborn Primary School building followed.
“It’s really hard for us to envision the world our kids are going into – the world we went into is so very different than current times, and 20 to 25 years from now we can only imagine their world of work, the kinds of technology they’re dealing with, the kinds of problems they’re solving,” Interim Superintendent Terry Riley said. “Newer facilities will allow us to more flexibly serve out students, and appropriately integrate technology.”
The process began over the summer months when the board expressed interest to the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, which supports educational building construction throughout the state of Ohio. The district just finished up the assessment process, and officials are anxiously awaiting results of such in the coming days. The next step in the process includes creating a master plan, which will need to be approved by OFCC in the spring months in order for the district to move forward.
“Only a small portion of our facility operation is air conditioned,” Riley said. “We can’t get technology in the many corners because our infrastructure is so thick – it doesn’t bypass these concrete and steel walls.”
Part of this process will include two levies. However, only one is asking for new money. Voters will have the opportunity to approve an emergency levy in March 2016 that was initially passed in 2007, renewed in 2012 and is not asking for new money. District Treasurer Nicole Marshall said this levy is used for day-to-day operations, such as utility payments, fulfilling supply needs and supporting salaries. If voters don’t pass the emergency level in the spring months, the OFCC process will end completely at that point unless officials respond by going back to the drawing board to start the process all over again.
However, the district will ask for new money on the November 2016 ballot in order to fund its building project. Marshall said the money from that levy could only be used for the building project, and comes after OFCC agreed to pay 46 percent of the total amount needed for the construction, given the projects approval in the spring months – leaving the remaining 54 percent in the hands of the voters.
“Fairborn City Schools has financial stability at this point,” Board Vice President Roland Parks said. “We’re in a position that we can pursue possible assistance to build new schools. Had this come along two, three years ago when we were in financial caution, we would not be in a position to pursue this.”
Fairborn High School completed construction in the late 1960s and opened its doors in 1970; it is the newest educational facility in the district. Officials from SHP, the design company the district is working with for this process, said the buildings include mostly original plumbing, heating and electrical systems. Officials asked attendees of the previous community forum to complete surveys regarding the conditions of the buildings. According to the district and SHP, 85 individuals completed the survey and 96 percent described the buildings as poor or below average.
“When you [think about] what we hope to do with this — it’s create experiences that will provide problem-solving students, exceptional and higher-end thinkers, and work with other kids in a collaborative setting … Because that’s what the world expects from us,” Riley said. “We need to do, in our classrooms, the kind of jobs that will generate a workforce that’s different than what we’re used to, a workforce that is very service-oriented, not manufacture-oriented because it’s very likely that that will be somewhere else. Our kids have to be given the opportunity to learn in that kind of environment.”
If the levy passes in November 2016, which will support the building project, the district will begin the design and planning process before breaking ground. SHP officials said construction will take about two years, therefore citizens could expect to see new educational facilities three years after passing the levy, if such occurs.
The next community forum will take place Nov. 19 at Fairborn Intermediate School; the final meeting will occur Jan. 21 at Fairborn High School.