Kettering schools seeks $1 million for facility upgrades

Kettering City Schools has taken the first step toward qualifying for $1 million in state funding that could be used to upgrade school facilities.

The school board this month agreed to apply for an Ohio Facilities Construction Commission program that provides $1 million in state money for approved projects if the school district contributes $1 million of its own.

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“You still have to go through the master planning process with them, which we view as a positive,” said Ken Lackey, director of business services for the district. “They’ll come in and assess all of our buildings and give us a report back on (what condition) they think they’re in and where they think our needs are. That’s at the state’s expense, so there’s no harm in that.”

Lackey said it’s a slow process. The state assessment would start in late 2018, and if funding was approved, it likely wouldn’t be available until 2020. But the school district would be happy to have the money.

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Lackey said renovation of the 1929 Barnes building on Far Hills Avenue — which houses district administrative offices and alternative school programs — is the largest facilities expense pending.

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But he said there are preliminary discussions of other possible projects, such as an addition at the high school to house more career tech programs.

“And someday down the road, there may be all-day kindergarten,” Lackey said. “We’ve always talked about that as a possibility, and we would need some additional space in some locations to accommodate that.”

Lackey said if Kettering is approved for state funding, the $1 million local match would come from the district’s existing permanent improvement levy that was passed in 2016.

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Other than Greenmont Elementary, which opened in 2005, Kettering’s current schools were built between 1949 (Van Buren) and 1966 (Kennedy). All of those schools were significantly renovated after voters approved a 2002 bond issue, and Lackey said the renovations are holding up well.

“Our buildings are in good shape,” he said. “I feel very confident they won’t come back in this master planning process and say any of our buildings would need to be replaced.”

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