As published in Toledo Business Journal - April 1, 2017

 

Rossford plans $70M school buildings

Rossford voters passed a school levy in November which will provide almost $70 million to fund the construction of a new K-5 building that would hold up to 800 students.

According to Rossford Exempted Village Schools superintendent Dan Creps, a 6-12 grade facility will be developed on the current downtown Rossford site and all pre-kindergarten through fifth grade elementary students will be located at the current Glenwood site.

“We had facilities that were outdated and just very old,” said Creps. “Three of them were pushing a hundred years old, and as a result we were running into significant issues maintaining the facility in terms of just basic things. In fact, just within the last couple of days we’ve been fighting things with our boiler system, due to age. But the primary reason was to get our students into 21st century learning environments. The facilities that we had have been good to the students for many, many years but they did not meet the needs of 21st century learning.

“At the Glenwood site, it’s important to note that we’re saving a portion of that – the newest portion of the Glenwood site – because of the pre-bond services,” he continued. “Our architect looked at that, and in order to save on the project they said this part of the building can have some renovations done and yet still be maintained, so that’s being done.”

At the downtown site, a central administration facility is planned that will be connected to the 6-12 grade school to consolidate the district at two site locations. Plans include total remodeling of the original 1922 high school portion combined with new additions. The board is exploring options to divest Eagle Point Elementary and its administrative offices at Indian Hills.

“In our survey that we did back in the fall of ’15, there was a strong desire from the community to maintain the ‘22 portion, the facade, the core of that building,” said Creps. “So, those two elements are being saved, but the idea of the rest of it being new on both of those campuses is that we’re moving from four sites to two sites. And of course, operationally that’s going to save the district significantly. Once we get into that two-site arrangement and into the future, we’re estimated to save about $4.2 million a year in operations. And that is significant.”

Once the building projects are complete, annual operational savings will result, primarily due to the reduction of district operated sites and replacing inefficient systems and finishes.

“We have gone to more efficient lighting over time, when and where it made sense to, but the lighting systems are ones we are excited about improving,” said Creps. “Our water systems, in terms of water usage throughout the building, flushing, hand-washing, all that sort of thing, were not as efficient as they could have been for the age of the buildings. We’ll be able to install electrical upgrades with those buildings. Just about every facet that you can think of, we’ll be able to improve and upgrade in terms of efficiency.”

Planning and design will take place during the next 12-14 months with involvement by school personnel and the planning committee to include selected students and members of the community. Construction will begin after the design is finalized and the bids are received, with all work scheduled for completion by July 2020.

“Our architect will be the same as we used for all of our pre-bond services, and that’s The Collaborative Inc.,” said Creps, adding that he planned to formalize the contract with them in January. “Our facilities committee just determined that we’ll be using a construction management at risk (CMR) project delivery method, so the major groundbreaking won’t be until the spring of 2018. But, if there are some smaller projects that make sense to complete before that major construction start in ’18, we likely will pursue those. Two of those that come to mind would be our bus transportation building and the football stadium. Those are possible to start before ‘18 simply because they have the lowest amount of impact on our students and daily instructional schedule. So if it makes sense to move on those prior to ‘18, we’ll do that.”

According to Creps, the district performed a significant upgrade of Glenwood athletic facilities in 2009 that continue to be useful, but he is anticipating further improvements to the downtown stadium.

“Downtown, with the football stadium, they’re looking at first and foremost making that ADA compliant,” he said. “Many of our older community members that love to come out and enjoy the games, as well as those with physical disabilities, are going to be able to do that to a much greater degree. So, we’ll have new concession areas, all new restroom areas at the top, new bleachers in the stadium that we’ve had significant issues with over the years, that have been repaired and redone. We’re also looking at artificial turf for the playing surface. So that area will receive significant upgrades.”

Creps also looks forward to improvements in building security.

“We do a great job now with the facilities as they’re set up” he said. “But then again, when you have buildings that were built and added onto over the years, you can appreciate some of the challenges that we face, particularly with respect to security, so we’re looking to plan those accordingly. When we do have visitors to our building we will be able to make sure that they enter into a secure area where we can check all credentials and make sure everything is in keeping with the safety of our staff and students before they would gain access to the student area. Certainly, along with that, we’re looking at the idea of more secure vestibule visitor centers, as well as some more security camera upgrades that can be utilized. For instance, we have a system now called Navigate Prepared, which allows our law enforcement and emergency responders to be able to tap into our cameras in real time. We’re excited on being able to plan for that capability that we currently don’t have.

“Along with that, our traffic patterns at both sites right now are very challenging,” he continued. “The new facilities will offer the opportunity to segregate bus traffic from parent and staff vehicles and that alone will really be a huge upgrade to safety for our students and staff in those parking lot areas.”

Current enrollment in the Rossford Exempted Village Schools system is between 1,600 and 1,700, according to Creps. The new buildings will be designed to plan for modest growth.

“Our enrollment has been dropping over the past several years,” said Creps. “There are a number of reasons for that, but one of them that we know stood out was certainly our facilities. We know that some people were choosing to go to other school districts under open enrollment or move out of the community entirely due to the antiquated facilities that we were working in. We knew that we had to get something accomplished in order to maintain and attract new families to the district.”

 

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