Fairborn considers new school buildings

State would pay 46 percent of project, early estimates show.

The estimated cost to renovate the five Fairborn school buildings is a little more than $105 million, and all of the buildings came in higher than the two-thirds threshold that the Ohio School Facilities Commission considers when it weighs projects for districts.

If the cost to renovate a building is more than two-thirds what it would take to build new, the state recommends building a new facility. All five buildings came in between 71 percent and 89 percent in its assessment. The existing buildings were built in the 1950s and 1960s.

“It’s clear that the buildings are generally deficient to meet the modern education standards we need for our children here in Fairborn,” said school board member Andrew Wilson, who highlighted the poor classroom sizes and configurations, and lack of technology infrastructure and HVAC systems.

Based on the current OSFC formula, the state would pay for approximately 46 percent of the project, and the local share would be 54 percent, interim superintendent Terry Riley said. Construction of a new football stadium, auditorium and transportation facility would need to be locally-funded initiatives.

Riley said the community input the district has received to this point favors a campus concept, which would require about 120 acres of land. The next community forum is scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 21 at Fairborn High School.

“We have aging schools, and we’re not able to deliver 21st century education in these buildings,” Riley said. “The window is open for us to take advantage of the state’s program.”

Rick Savors, spokesman for the OSFC, said those assessment numbers may change as the state reviews the sites to determine if there are any costs to remove hazardous materials.

“Once the cost figures are finalized, we will work closely with the district to determine how many buildings the district will occupy, what grade levels will be in each building and how many students will be educated in each structure,” Savors said.

The district anticipates the OSFC to approve the project in July, paving the way for a bond levy in November 2016. Fairborn would have two other opportunities in 2017 to pass a bond levy, if needed.

If the bond issue passes, Riley said it would take 18 months to two years to break ground, and an estimated four to 10 years before the entire project is completed.

“The feedback we’re getting is that there’s a real need for this,” Riley said. “We’re really encouraged. We believe we’ll put out a good plan in the summer and early fall for voters to consider. They’ll be able to envision the future with us.”

A 10-year enrollment projection is expected to be completed in the next couple weeks, Riley said. Fairborn has an enrollment of about 4,400 students.

The enrollment projections will help define the square footage of new buildings and replacement costs, Riley said.

The Fairborn school board decided in June to proceed with notifying the OSFC that it will enter into an active planning process and participate in the classroom facilities assistance program.

Voters also should expect to see a renewal for an emergency levy on the ballot in March 2016. The levy — which generates $5 million annually — expires at the end of 2017, but school officials have said they want to be certain those operating funds will continue to come in before seeking a bond levy.

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