FAIRBORN – The Fairborn City School district is asking for community input regarding new educational facilities. District officials held the first of several monthly meetings Thursday evening, in which they presented information, answered citizens questions, offered a tour of the Baker Middle School building and welcomed feedback.
Former Superintendent Dave Scarberry and school board members began the process with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission over the summer months, and recently finished up the assessment process for its buildings. They expect results for such next month. The next step is constructing a master plan.
“Student success and student learning is specific to the quality of the environment,” Interim Superintendent Terry Riley said. “We do really good things in our classrooms. Walking up and down classrooms, listening to what’s going on, watching the children, I’ve been impressed. However, our classrooms are very limited in terms of flexibility. We need hands-on science, we need hands-on activities – that’s how kids learn. We need to be able to flex the space, we need technology in our classrooms.”
The district is not ruling out the possibility of either reconstructing new facilities, or renovating the already-existent buildings. Questions regarding how much the total cost for reconstructing new buildings are not yet answered. However, Director of Business Affairs and Classified Personnel Ed Gibbons of the Fairborn City School district said renovating the current standing buildings would cost $60 million. The district has partnered with SHP, an architect company with a history of working on education facilities, for this process.
“This is the opportunity to transition to what education can be in the future,” SHP Vice President Ron Hicks said, adding that the current buildings are 40 to 50 years old. “Whether you’re renovating or, even more questionably, if you’re [reconstructing], you can build these buildings to accommodate, what we know at this point, where education is going. What we certainly know is that it’s changing. Designing something that allows you to change in the future is one thing I think everyone can agree on.”
Voters will be presented with the decision to renew the district’s emergency levy in March 2016. Officials said this levy will not be new money. However, if the levy is voted down, the OFCC process will come to an end. Voters will decide in November 2016, pending state approval or denial for the district’s plan in April, on a bond levy to go toward the construction.
The total amount for the bond levy is contingent on the district’s master plan. OFCC will pay for part of the construction, but the remaining amount will be left to the community. The total amount for such is still up in the air.
“We have to have spaces that are tuned-in to 21st century education,” Riley said. “Most of our classrooms are tuned-in to 1950, 1960 and it’s really different.”
The district is asking community members to complete surveys and will be forming focus groups to decide what the new or renovated spaces would include. The district will hold its next meeting, in which officials will present more information, Oct. 15 in the Fairborn Primary School auditorium.
The district will host these meeting the third Thursday of each month, with an exception to December, throughout the next six months.