Troy begins community talks about schools

Consolidation, new construction among ideas to be considered.

Troy City Schools leaders hope to discuss the future of district facilities with the community in 2016.

The Board of Education in early December received a preview of some elements of that discussion in a presentation from Superintendent Eric Herman.

The discussion needs widespread involvement, he said.

“There are some things that are going to take time to talk through. People in Troy like their schools, they are traditional,” he said.

The district has continued to maintain its aging buildings as many other districts have pursued building projects, usually through the Ohio School Facilities Commission program that provides a percentage of funding for districts if they follow program requirements.

The Troy district’s buildings range in age from the more than 100-year-old Van Cleve school – formerly the high school and now a sixth-grade building – to the Troy Junior High built in the early 1970s. Expansions and renovations have taken place at various buildings over the years.

Whether Troy would be involved in a construction project, and if it would include OSFC dollars, are among questions the board plans to explore.

“There are so many variables,” said board President Doug Trostle.

Among them are whether the district should continue with its neighborhood schools or move to a central campus and whether new land would be needed by the district for future construction.

Trostle said involving the community in the last district renovation project of a high school gym and science wing in 2006 was part of the success of that project.

“The more you engage the community, the easier it is to sell in the end,” he said.

Among discussions would be the future of the Van Cleve building.

“I am not sure we are ready to propose tearing it down, but at some point …we may need to find another use,” Trostle said.

The future of neighborhood schools – the district has six elementary buildings in addition to the sixth-grade building – is expected to spark discussion.

“I like supporting the neighborhood schools,” Trostle said. Fellow board member Joyce Reives added, “I agree, abut I think we could have fewer.”

Board member Ginny Beamish said she would first like “to hear what the community has to say” before getting too deep into a discussion.

“We have to have some vision out there and let it evolve,” Trostle said.

Herman said elementary schools possibly could be combined into kindergarten through grade two and grade three to grade five buildings.

“I think neighborhood schools are more effective,” he said.

The coming year is a good time to hold the facilities’ future discussion with the timing of district levies, Herman and district Treasurer Jeff Price said.

Voters in March will be asked to renew a 5.98-mill, five-year operating levy. If that is approved, the district does not have any existing levies scheduled for action by voters until 2019 when the 1.1-mill permanent improvement levy would be up for renewal.

That timeline would allow the district to ask voters to approve funding for either additional improvements to existing buildings or new building construction dollars in 2017, Herman said. The $680,000 a year generated by the permanent improvement levy would not be enough to carry out major work needed, he said.

An assessment this fall of the district’s buildings’ mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems showed nearly $51 million in proposed renovations.

The board also must decide if it will take on the facilities discussion on its own or hire consultants to help with the process.

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