Funding for a PK-12 school campus is likely to go on the November ballot, pending a June 12 vote by the Oberlin board of education.
Board members signaled May 22 that they intend to ask voters for construction cash. President Anne Schaum said all the options have been investigated exhaustively.
Study sessions were held in March and April to explore 11 master plan scenarios crafted by the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission and ThenDesign Architecture.
The board has tried to put this on the ballot twice before and has backed away each time.
“I think it’s important that as we grapple with this, we don’t lose site of the fact that the PK-12 model is the recommendation of our superintendent and is supported by our director of operations,” Schaum said.
There are advantages to renovating Langston Middle School — its proximity to the town, reusing a historic building, the upfront cost differential, and easier access for Oberlin College volunteers — but for board member Barry Richard, the decision came down to long-term cost savings.
Renovating two buildings would save the district just over $400,000, while a single-building campus could save nearly $1.2 million.
“I wont be here in 50 years but this is a decision we have to look down the road for,” he said.
A single-building model also allows students to work across grades and better aligns the International Baccalaureate program framework, board member Albert Borroni said.
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Albert Borroni “Teachers and students should be able to learn every time they walk in the building and they should be safe. The security in our buildings is abysmal. We could renovate our buildings and try to fix that in all of them but that’s going to be really costly and is that really where we want to spend our money?”
Barry Richard While constructing a PK-12 campus, there would be “no disruption to current instruction.” A full renovation of Langston Middle School and Oberlin High School would take three years each: “That type of disruption to learning is a bridge too far for me to consider. We have to put the kids somewhere and that would be an additional expense.”
Anne Schaum “The district started looking at this in 2006. It’s now 2018. We have to do something. I have been asked by many voters in town to let them vote. We have not given our community a chance to have their voice heard on a ballot.”
Ken Stanley “It’s simply going to cost us more to renovate Langston (Middle School) than to build new. My sense is that people want us to do what is most cost-effective.”
Jason Williams “Aside from the savings, we want to set the tone for our younger kids. They can walk through the building and see a natural progression… Ultimately, are we preparing our students for life beyond Oberlin City Schools in our current facilities?”