Yellow Springs considering several options for new school building(s)

Yellow Springs school district. FILE
Caption
Yellow Springs school district. FILE

Yellow Springs is working toward a decision on what to do with its school facilities.

Three state-funded proposals and one proposal without state funding are being considered by a Community Advisory Team, which includes parents, administrators and community members. The Community Advisory Team will decide on which plan to submit to the Yellow Springs Board of Education in April.

The district says the current school buildings do not currently meet its needs.

The cost of the options are between $31 million and $34 million before reimbursement of about 26% of the cost through the state, said Terri Holden, the district’s superintendent.The district says it will know the cost by the end of April.

If the district chose to use state funds, it will need a new school levy. Holden said during a meeting with the public on Feb. 18 if state funding is chosen, a ballot initiative would likely be put on the November ballot.

The options for working with the 26% of funding through the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission include:

  • New construction of a K-12 building with 26% reimbursement from OFCC. A preferred location is currently being discussed, and recommended size is about 47 acres.
  • Renovation and major addition at 7-12 campus for a K-12 building. This would require a waiver, but would get a 26% reimbursement.
  • Renovation and minor addition to 7-12 building for K-12 facility. There would be no demolition or replacement, but only renovation.

A fourth choice, or what the district calls option zero: the district could address only current critical issues and renovate the buildings using general fund dollars and not pass a new levy. It would not include state funding.

Yellow Springs has not made any final decision on the facilities; however, the state is recommending Yellow Springs build one building for all of its students.

Ohio does not recommend renovating schools when costs to renovate are more than 66% of the cost to build new. According to 2019 projections, the cost to renovate the Yellow Springs middle school and high school was projected at about $19,798,360, while the cost to replace the building was $19,192,650. For the Mills Lawn elementary school, the cost to renovate would be about $11,784,798 and the cost to replace it is $12,242,246.

According to Shea McMahon of SHP Leading Design, the architecture, engineering and design firm working with Yellow Springs on the project, any building the state sponsors must be built for at least 350 students for efficiency of long-term operating expenses, and the budget and size will be based on enrollment projections. Yellow Springs’s most recent enrollment projections show less than 700 students.

Building several buildings could require several waivers to work with OFCC funding.

“The highest possibility is that there would be one facility, and we would have to request multiple waivers to have more than one school facility or more than one school campus,” McMahon said.

Holden said she heard from community members after Yellow Springs failed to pass a 2018 ballot initiative to build new schools that proposed levy was too expensive. OFCC funding would bring the cost down.

Additional costs, like the costs to buy land, are not shared by the state.

The first of three meetings with the public to discuss what will happen to the school facilities occurred on Feb. 18. The next two meetings are scheduled for March 4 and March 17.

To watch the full video from Feb. 18 or for more information on the project, visit https://ysforward.com/