School research was not in vain

To the editor:

I would like to make a personal statement about the Oberlin school board’s decision to not put any building levy on the ballot in November. In particular, I want to acknowledge the work of our building sub-committee team, which is made up of Oberlin residents and school staff, and to note that this work has not been in vain.

Many volunteer hours were devoted to analyzing different aspects of this very long discussion, which dates back to March 2010 (over six years ago) with the goal of presenting a choice to the community.

Among the areas that sub-committees focused on were academic impact, athletics, building consolidation, financial impact, city and college cooperation discussions, repurposing of existing buildings, school design, and sustainability. I especially want to acknowledge the work of Erik Andrews and Steve Thompson on the athletic piece; Todd Rasmussen, with building design; Scott Broadwell and Sal Talarico regarding city discussions; Rick Flood and his repurposing team and Sean Hayes’ focus on sustainability.

I point all this out as to way for the community to better understand “that there was no rush to judgement” and that solid and thoughtful work was done in coming to the realization, in my opinion, that new construction, whether it be in phases or building all at once, is the best long-term (50 years out) solution to reducing our operational expenses and providing the best physical learning environment for our students.

I am disappointed that the wider community will not have a chance to vote on any building issue in November. To me, this would have been the perfect time to invest in our community, particularly with interest rates at historically low levels and may be headed even lower. I really felt this was our time to do something unique for Oberlin.

Moving forward, our task is to take this six years of accumulated work and to do a better job of sharing this knowledge with more of the community, so they understand the pluses and minuses of the options available, whether it be doing nothing, consolidation, or new construction.

Barry Richard

Oberlin School Board Member