What Oakwood’s school facilities plan would do for buildings in the district

Oakwood’s schools superintendent will recommend the board of education adopt a facilities plan that will cost tens of millions of dollars to update and improve existing buildings.

Oakwood Superintendent Kyle Ramey said he now has a better understanding of community priorities for the district’s proposed facilities master plan after a recent presentation and is recommending the board adopt it at the next meeting, Nov. 19.

MORE: Oakwood is considering school changes from academics to food to buildings, and it wants help

“The goal of the plan is to ensure the district’s facilities remain safe, dry and secure, while supporting the educational and instructional needs of current and future Oakwood students and staff,” he said. “We heard loud and clear from our community, students and staff a strong desire to keep our current buildings. We are doing that, keeping our current buildings, not tearing them down.”

“We have developed a four-phase plan that prioritizes renovation first, while encouraging community input and feedback as the four phases are implemented. Phase 1 will focus on prioritized foundational infrastructure - like plumbing, electric, HVAC, ADA and security upgrades at the junior high and high school and targeted infrastructure upgrades at Smith and Harman elementary schools.”

The entire project covers a projected time period between 2019 to 2038. The plans include preserving current buildings with infrastructure improvements, addressing performing arts rehearsal space issues and exploring the concept of an Early Learning Center for pre-kindergarten-through-first-grade students that could also serve as community space.

MORE: Oakwood votes on interim school treasurer duties

“We feel very confident in the information and feedback that was developed during the last two years of assessments, evaluations and meetings,” Ramey said. “Our next challenge will be working through the design process to develop a specific timeline to accomplish the work in Phase 1.”

Oakwood residents have raised numerous concerns about the proposals, including an increase to already-high tax rates, loss of green space via new construction, whether that construction is needed given stable enrollment, preserving the character of existing buildings, and the mechanics of borrowing enough money to execute an expensive project.

A less-vocal group has urged the district to move forward with a major revamp of facilities.

The cost of the proposed four phases in the project range anywhere from $20 million to $90 million, depending on what the community and board support. The estimated cost for Phase 1 of the project is $19 million, and the other phases will have costs determined later..

Traci Hale, community relations director for the district, said surveys that garnered feedback from the community regarding efforts on a long-range plan for facilities were helpful and more details will be released in November.

“We will be sharing the report with the community after the board approves it in November,” Hale said.

MORE: Oakwood superintendent gets new 5-year deal with raise, annuity

About the Author