Manchester BOE seeking input on potential new school buildings

Manchester Local Schools officials want to hear from the community to help direct them on how to improve their facilities.

During the Feb. 19 meeting, Manchester Superintendent Dr. James Robinson said the district has been in talks with the state on how much money it could receive to put toward construction projects.

“We are looking at what we can do to make our facilities better,” Robinson said.

Since 1938, when the district was founded, there have been 23 bond issues put before voters with only nine of them passing. Robinson said of the last 10 bond issues only, one has passed and that was in the 1970s to build the middle school and part of the high school.

Most recently, voters defeated a bond issue in March 2016 by 80 votes and then by eight votes in August 2016.

The district wants to partner with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, which in 2016 said it would fund 36 percent of the project. That number went up last year to 38 percent and now stands at 41 percent.

Four options are being presented for the facilities with the total cost ranging from approximately $45 to $50 million.

The first option is to build a new high for grades 9-12; renovate and add on to the middle school for grades 5-9; renovate and add on to the existing high school to house PK-5; and demolish Nolley Elementary School.

The second option is to build one new building, which would house PK-12. All three current school buildings would be demolished under this option.

The third option is to build a new building to house grades 6-12; renovate the existing high school to house PK-5; and demolish the elementary and the middle school.

The fourth option is to renovate and add on to the existing high school to house PK-12 and to demolish the elementary and middle school.

Robinson said there are several options on the table and he wants to include preschool in with the project because the district pays to rent space to house preschool classes. The state will not provide the district any money to renovate the existing Nolley building because of its age, he said.

Board member Cindy McDonald said the board wants to listen and hear ideas from the community. She stressed that no decisions have been made.

During the next 10 years, the district’s enrollment is expected to trend even close to current 1,400 students but officials want to plan for some growth if it does occur.

Robinson and the board said the custodians do a great job keeping the current facilities looking great, but the problems are behind the walls where the public doesn’t see.

Board President Richard Sponseller said at Nolley when there is a presentation parents have to stand and students have to sit on the floor because there is no seating and the gym and cafeteria share a space.

“We can do better than that,” Sponseller said. “We all have to do this together.”

Robinson said this school year is the first time he can remember calling off school because it was too hot inside Nolley. He said the extreme heat last fall resulted in students and teachers both getting sick.

The district needs to make a decision by April and then decide what the bond issue would look like. Robinson said the district would have two opportunities to pass the bond issue, in November and then May 2020. If neither attempt passed, the district would have to refile for state funding and would essentially go to the back of the line, Robinson said.

In other business Feb. 19, the board:

– Approved the sub pay rates, which increased to $8.55 per hour because of the increase in minimum wage.

– Approved a three-year contract for middle school principal James Miller.

– Approved for the Manchester High School Drama Club trip to New York City during spring break 2020.

– Approved the high school marching band and cheerleaders 2019 trip to New York City to perform in the Macy’s Day Parade and the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum. They will leave for the trip Nov. 24 and return Nov. 28.

– Approved a $2,000 donation from the Balogh Family to the high school drama club, a $799 donation from Panther Paws to the high school football fundraiser and a $30,000 donation from the Arnold Family to the Carl M. Arnold Scholarship.

The next Manchester Schools board meeting is at 6:30 p.m. March 19 at the Administration Building, 6075 Manchester Road.


This story was also published in The Suburbanite.