AURORA – A new building could be in the school district’s future and, if erected, it could mean the end of life for the aging Craddock building. However, nothing has been decided yet, including location and grade levels.
After the school board gave the go-ahead for the administration to explore the possibility of a new building, a survey of families in the district was completed in May and a series of four citizen engagement meetings were held in september.
“My plan is to share public and staff wish lists with the school board at its regular Oct. 24 meeting,” Superintendent Mike Roberto said, adding that the district has already begun publicizing to find interested architectural firms.
“We hope to interview these companies in November and December and have a recommendation for the board in January 2023. Then we will ask the selected company to develop a cost analysis by March.”
A building committee would then be formed, other schools would be visited, and community and staff meetings would take place, with final designs expected to be in place by late 2023 or early 2024.
“We are targeting November 2024 as the date for a possible bond issue,” Roberto said. “If all goes well, we would like the new building to be completed by August 2026.”
Roberto said it was too early to determine a cost estimate for the new building, but it is likely the project would be entirely financed locally.
“Based on the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission’s eligibility ranking list, we are in the bottom quartile and would only qualify for a small percentage of state assistance,” said he declared. “I understand that this part would probably not cover any requirements that OFC might establish for the use of these funds.”
Roberto noted that the topic of possible construction came up several months ago after some parents raised concerns about rising school enrollment and the impact of new housing on the district.
Roberto said 1,215 families in the district responded to the survey, which represents 1,882 students or approximately 63% of the student population.
“About ¾ of respondents believe that under the current circumstances, schools should at least consider building a new school within the next five years,” Roberto said.
Of the 75% of respondents who were in favor of building new schools, about half believe Craddock would be the building they would target for replacement.
Roberto said 87% of parents who responded said they would support a bond issue to build a new building.
The oldest building in the district is on East Garfield Road and now houses the central offices (originally Aurora High School). The first section of the adjoining Craddock School was built in the 1940s, and several sections were added, the last in 1965.
“Interestingly, the second most selected choice, with 26% of respondents to this part of the survey, suggests that the district should consider retaining all five buildings and adding a sixth,” Roberto said. .
The board has developed preliminary profiles for three different grade level options – a high school, a four-year elementary school and a two-year middle school. Roberto said these were shared at public forums in September, as well as with district staff.
The profiles describe factors such as the estimated number of classrooms, whether a swimming pool would be part of the building, the size of the auditorium, the number of cafeterias and parking spaces, and several other elements.
“Our families are mostly [43 percent] would like to see a new high school built, with a plan to transfer our sixth to eighth grades to the existing AHS, third to fifth to Harmon, and kindergarten to second to Leighton.
“Twenty-two percent of respondents think the district should consider a K-3 or K-2 building as a new school, and about 12 percent suggested a new building could contain two grade levels such as four/five or one/two. ”
But the head of the school said there was still a long way to go before the council considered new construction.
Information from the Ohio Facilities Commission audit, which was completed on the district before the coronavirus pandemic, is under review, as is a list of items/repairs to create a cost analysis. for the possibility of maintaining Craddock.
Roberto said that over the past 10 years there has been a slow but steady increase in enrollment at Miller (pre-K and K) and Craddock (grades 1-2), while Leighton (grades 3-5) increased slightly and Harmon (grades 6-8) has been relatively constant.
“The high school actually showed a small decrease from just over 1,000 students to 975 today,” Roberto said. “The overall result is a fairly stable enrollment of 3,000 students over the past 10 years.
“We are growing, but not as much as in the late 1990s,” he added. Of course, this is not the only variable to consider when considering the possibility of new construction. You also have to look at the buildings themselves.
“It’s safe to say that we have used our buildings a lot by adding space over the years, but each of the buildings is approaching its capacity.”
Other factors the district is monitoring are future housing growth and the cost of upkeep/upkeep of existing school buildings.
Roberto said there were about 87 houses under construction in May, while it is possible that more than 400 more houses will be built over the next four years or so.
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