Independence Local Schools: The State of our Facilities
The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) is responsible for guiding capital projects for state agencies, including Ohio’s comprehensive public K-12 school construction and renovation program. They assessed our school buildings and provided a comprehensive report.
The Problem: They found our Pk- 8 school buildings are in desperate need.
Independence Primary School & Middle School are NOT ADA compliant.
Building layouts impede safety and fire systems do NOT meet current requirements.
Aging HVAC systems cannot regulate temperature, leaving some classrooms way too hot, and others too cold.
Obsolete boilers, leaky plumbing and restroom fixtures are in desperate need of replacement, but parts are difficult to find and very expensive to retrofit.
Roofs are in poor conditions and drafty windows are not energy efficient.
Inadequate electrical capacity makes it difficult or impossible to power classroom technology and basic utilities at the same time.
Undersized classrooms and science labs do NOT allow sufficient space for specialized learning areas, or effective small group activities.
While our buildings are clean and well-maintained, many problems lurk beneath the surface. Due to the age and the condition of the buildings, expensive repairs drain dollars away from instruction. We have made minor repairs, but we are past the point of makeshift fixes.
A dedicated group of community volunteers met for months to review the State’s findings along with enrollment projections. They came up with a recommendation to address these aging buildings that are no longer suited for today’s education.
The group concluded it was more fiscally responsible to pursue new construction because the cost to build new was very close to the cost to renovate. And while renovation has an average shelf life of 20 years, new construction would last 50-60 years.
Build two buildings under one roof to house both Independence Primary and Middle School (PreK-8) students located on the current middle school property. This building would replace the two existing buildings that are in desperate need of extensive renovations and repair work. It would have separate entrances for each school and exist as separate units with age appropriate divisions, updated safety and security features, and modern educational technology and learning spaces.
To fund the plan, the board has placed a 3.4 mill bond issue that will raise $32 million on the November 5 ballot. The issue costs approximately $10/month per $100,000 home value.
Other key decision-making factors:
Our fire and police chiefs agree that safety and security will be increased exponentially by having all students in one area of the city instead of two separate locations, should an emergency arise.
Current primary and middle school pre-date computers and the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.
The configuration of the buildings do not provide for small-group work, student collaboration, or project-based learning, which are all essential skills for children to develop in today’s flexible classroom environment.
Who was involved in the creation of this plan?
This decision comes after two years of research and planning involving the district’s Citizen Facilities and Finance Committees, strategic planning and visioning, resident surveying, and the involvement of more than 100 residents, teachers, staff, civic officials, administration and Board of Education members.
For more information:
Superintendent Ben Hegedish
Assistant Superintendent Tom Dreiling
Communication to Residents
There will be community meetings and information given to residents on the facilities plan on the district website at www.independence.k12.oh.us, Facebook page @YourIndySchools and the fall issue of the Independence Quarterly newsletter that will be mailed in September. Residents who have questions are encouraged to call Superintendent Hegedish at 216/642-5850 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The community is invited to review documents, financial information, and updates at this web address: http://bit.ly/IndepSchoolsFacilities.
Superintendent Ben Hegedish’s State of the Schools address that focuses on this facilities plan and the future of education in Independence can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/IndySOS2019