Kettering schools seek state help for long-term school building plans

Many local districts have built new schools with help from OFCC money; Kettering will begin a building assessment and master plan process

KETTERING — The Kettering school district will seek state funding for long-term improvements to buildings and facilities.

The district wants to apply for an Ohio Facilities Construction Commission program to help with long-range planning, citing a higher percentage in state funding assistance than in previous years, said Kettering Business Services Director Jeff Johnson.

If the district is eligible for state money, the OFCC would assess its buildings at no charge and develop an agreement allowing Kettering “discretionary” decisions on projects, he said.

Kettering has not previously participated in the OFCC new building funding program, which has helped many area districts — including Xenia, Fairborn, West Carrollton and Valley View currently — to construct new schools.

Kettering’s current schools were built decades ago, the oldest being Van Buren Middle School, constructed as a junior high in 1949, district records show.

The Kettering board of education Tuesday night approved a measure to participate in Ohio’s “Expedited Local Partnership Program.”

The program allows school districts that are more than two years away from eligibility for state aid to receive an assessment and a master facility plan, state records show.

Kettering board President Toby Henderson said Tuesday night’s move is “not pointed toward construction of any new buildings,” but Johnson said that option could be available.

The current funding formula shows Kettering in line to receive 43% in Ohio funding through the state, about a 13% increase from what would have been possible four years ago, Johnson said.

If Kettering is accepted (a process that could take several months), the assessment, long-range plan and an enrollment study would follow, Johnson said.

That process, Henderson said, would involve “experts who are aligned with the facilities commission and they help us identify the ways in which we are using our buildings that we have now, maximizing that use.

“But also, I think most importantly at this point, is identifying areas where some of the buildings need some care,” he added.

It could take up to 18 months for any project agreement to be in place, Johnson said.

“We’re probably a year out before we know if we’re going to move forward with this whole process or not,” he said.

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