Facility improvements will be a process for Manchester Schools

A new high school won’t instantly be built in the Manchester Local School District, but it is coming Superintendent James Robinson said.

The timeline for the project heavily weighs on when the district receives state funding from the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission (OSFC). Voters recently approved an 8.87-mill bond levy, which will help fund $34 million in facility improvements in the district.

Plans call for a new 9-12 high school to be built and the existing high school will be remodeled and updated for pre-K to grade 5. Nolley Elementary School and the old Nimisila building will be demolished; the middle school trailers will be removed; and a new football/soccer complex will be constructed with a new track, field house and baseball field. The district’s central office will be moved to the old high school and the current central administrative building will be closed.

The OSFC will fund 41 percent of the new high school.

Robinson said the project has a domino effect as one aspect must be completed before the next one can begin. He said some renovations can begin at the current high school, but most of the renovations will have to wait until the new high school is built.

“We like to get started as soon as we can,” Robinson said. “We don’t want to go out of order and it cost us money.”

Robinson said the last time the district had a new building was about 50 years ago.

“We want to do it right,” Robinson said. “We are extremely happy it passed. It has been a long time coming.”

Nolley Elementary School opened in 1961, with an addition in 1968. The high school opened in 1959, with an addition in 1974. The district’s central office building opened in 1928.

The design process for the new high school is expected to take about a year and Robinson said the community will be involved in the process. He also said elementary school teachers and administrators will be involved in the process when renovations begin on the old high school to convert it to an elementary school.

Construction of the new high school is expected to take 18 to 24 months.

Robinson said the existing high school will receive an extensive renovation inside with air conditioning, lighting, security and restrooms being upgraded. He said elementary classrooms are different compared to high school rooms because they have restrooms in the classroom. A portion of the old high school will also become the district’s central office.

Robinson is hopeful some of the upgrades such as lighting and air conditioning can be done soon as the rest of the interior work would likely be done over a summer when the new high school is almost ready to open.

Upgrades to the athletic facilities will be one of the final portions of the project to be completed along with the demolition of Nolley and the Nimisila building. The district hopes to sell the administration office building.

The passage of the bond issue is the first new money the district has received since 2013.

“We are being responsible with what is given to us,” Robinson said. “We don’t plan on asking for any new money anytime soon.”

He also said he is confident the new high school will not only be a boost for the school district but a boost for the city too. He said it will make New Franklin more attractive for families

“We talked with real estate agents, it will make homes more valuable here,” Robinson said.

Four school districts stretch into New Franklin, but Manchester is the only district with a building in the city. Manchester Local Schools is also New Franklin’s largest employer.

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This story was also published in The Suburbanite. www.thesuburbanite.com