Streetsboro -- As a school bond issue looms on the November general election ballot, Streetsboro school officials admit there are questions on residents' minds.
"The primary benefit of this entire plan will be a better, safer educational and learning environment for every grade level in this district," Superintendent Michael Daulbaugh said.
Voters will decide on Issue 22, a combined bond issue and permanent improvement levy totaling 5.06 mills that would pay for the construction and upgrading of the district schools. If approved, it would raise $38.7 million to upgrade the district's school buildings. Daulbaugh said a homeowner of a $100,000 home will have to pay $177 a year, or $14 a month.
"We are not minimizing at all the cost to our homeowners," Daulbaugh said. "We know that represents a cost, and we're asking people to pay more money.
"But we believe the time is right for the package we're getting," he added, referring to the fact that the state is paying for 35 percent of the project -- about $24 million.
School officials' plans include building a new high school, renovating the current high school as a middle school, closing the current middle school, renovating Campus Elementary School to accommodate kindergarten through third-grade students and closing Wait Primary School.
At the Oct. 10 Streetsboro Board of Education meeting, school leaders touched on questions that residents have asked.
• What are school officials going to do with Wait Primary School after the school is taken off-line?
"This Board of Education will have to make some decisions on what we're going to do with that," Daulbaugh said. "It is a prime piece of real estate. We could abate the asbestos in the building and sell the building and property. We could tear down the building and sell just the property. We could maintain the entire site for non-educational use."
• Since the middle school is in good shape, what are school officials going to do with it?
"The middle school is in good shape, but the analysis by the Ohio Facilities Construction Committee stated we needed to take it off-line and build new," Daulbaugh said. "But that building can be kept."
School Board Vice President Andrew Lesak said the analysis was done by an independent party from the state.
"They analyzed the middle school and made the decision that the state was not willing to spend money on the middle school," Lesak said. "It was less expensive to build a new middle school."
Daulbaugh said the state has a formula that if it's more than a certain percentage to renovate vs. rebuild, then the state will not fund a renovation.
"The middle school fell into that percentage, as did Wait Primary School," Daulbaugh said. "So the state said, you can do with the building what you want, but we're not going to renovate it."
The current Streetsboro High School also fell into that same percentage, officials said.
"Why don't [we] just renovate the existing high school?" Lesak said. "[Because] the state isn't willing to invest in the high school. I want to take the most money from the state as I possibly can for our students. We certainly could invest in the high school, but it would be all of our own money. This [scenario, with the state paying for 35 percent of it] is a once in a lifetime project."
• What will happen to the middle school?
"We've identified, as a School Board, that the middle school is sound enough that we can use it for non-educational purposes," Daulbaugh said. "Currently, we have administrative offices spread throughout the entire district. So we're hoping what we can do with the middle school is have an administrative complex where we can do staff development. We have a very nice gymnasium. We have a nice cafeteria that was a gymnasium. And we have a large band and choir facility. Those could all be converted into athletic practice areas. So we're really going to utilize the middle school.
"If we experience growth down the road and we don't want to go back to the public to ask for more money, we can reopen the middle school and use it again for classroom space," Daulbaugh said.
• Is there any opportunity for community events at the middle school?
"Absolutely," Daulbaugh said. "That's something that we've talked about, and we're going to be doing quite a bit more investigating, and talking to the city, to see how we can combine some services and offer some community outreach-type events. There have been ideas floated about community classes."
"There will be an opportunity for using some of that space for storage because we don't have enough storage space," School Board member Brian Violi added.
• What will the new buildings be like?
"When you renovate a portion of the building, [according to the state], it has to be to what is called 'like new status,'" Daulbaugh said. "So when you walk in, it's like a new building, complete with new [air conditioning], lighting and electric."
School Board member Kevin Grimm said air conditioning in new buildings is a state requirement.
"One thing we're not looking for is luxury," Grimm said. "We're not looking for Taj Mahal-type buildings. We just want a place that is comfortable and safe for our students."
• Talk about the new high school being planned on Route 14 across from Deer Meadow Boulevard.
"We need space to grow. Moving to Route 14 gives us a ton of space," Daulbaugh said. "We're going to level the playing field. When you look at the school districts around us and their facilities, we pale in comparison. On the Route 14 site, the amount of room is staggering [for a high school, stadium, practice fields, parking lots and expansion]."
Daulbaugh said if the bond issue is approved, "the state will do a traffic study because it's on a state route. There has to be a traffic light and turn lanes. What that means is a complete reconfiguration of traffic in that area."
Daulbaugh said the state will pick up those traffic-related costs.
• Why can't residents see more details about the design of the new high school?
"Typically, you don't start the design phase until you pass the [bond] issue, then you hire an architect," Daulbaugh said. "Then we have meetings where we pull community members and teachers in, and we begin to design these facilities based on what the community and the School Board want."
"This is a process that the OFCC puts you through," Lesak said. "[The OFCC] is not going to let you spend the money [on architectural drawings] until the bond issue passes."