Our Kids, Their Future
Independence Local Schools Places Bond Issue on November Ballot to Construct New Primary and Middle School Buildings Under One Roof
At the Independence Board of Education regular meeting on June 25, 2019, board members voted to place a 3.4 mill bond issue on the November 5, 2019 ballot to raise $32.165 million to build two buildings under one roof to house both Independence Primary and Middle School students. The new building would be located on the current middle school property. It would have separate entrances for each school and exist as separate units.
Two Years of Planning and Research/Involvement of Residents
This decision comes after two years of research and planning involving the district’s Citizen Facilities and Finance Committees, Strategic Planning and visioning, and over one hundred residents, teachers, staff, civic officials, administration and Board of Education members. It also included the expert work of the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, GPD Architects and the Center for Marketing & Opinion Research. The bond issue would cost the owner of a $100,000 home approximately $119/year. Click here for breakdown of bond millage costs.
The District focused on identifying the facility problems, looking at funding options and exploring possible solutions. The district conducted a three-day visioning meeting with representatives from all segments of the community, with a heavy emphasis on how teaching and learning looks different today than it did 30, 20, or even 10 years ago. They also had a scientifically valid residential survey conducted by a third-party research firm that showed 46% of those surveyed would support a bond issue; 31% stating they were undecided but with more information about the building project, associated costs and current conditions of the facilities would give the bond issue consideration. Click here for a survey summary overview.
Repair, Renovate, New Construction
There was much discussion on whether to repair, renovate or pursue new construction. The district found that repair of the primary and middle schools would bring basic needs of these facilities to current standards, such as electrical, HVAC systems, roofs, windows, plumbing and other foundational items. Renovation of the two buildings, which would have a life expectancy of 20 years, would include all repair items as well as programming items that impact teaching and learning in preparing students for the future. New construction would start from the ground up with a facility that is in line with current building codes, educational environments for today’s teaching and learning approaches, and the longest lifespan of all options–50 years. The repair option would cost $16.5 million. The renovation of both schools would be $29.6 million. The building of two schools under one roof would be $32.2 million. “It was decided that new construction is the most cost effective and responsible use of funding for our facility needs at the primary and middle school,” said Hegedish. The two schools under one roof would exist as separate units, sharing certain mechanicals and infrastructure to increase operational efficiencies as well as having educational programming advantages to better prepare students for their future. Click here to view a cost analysis of these three options.
Factors Influencing Decision for New Construction Bond Issue
According to Assistant Superintendent Tom Dreiling, Independence Local Schools, several factors have influenced the decision to seek residents’ approval with this bond issue. These include but are not limited to:
- The facility problems that exist in our district must be addressed in a long term manner, meaning no short term fixes.
- A timeline of prioritized repairs has been determined too extensive to address with the current revenue coming into the district.
- The cost of repairing, renovating, or new construction will require a surge of funding that can be accomplished by the passage of a bond issue.
- Comparing visioning information, survey information, and financial implications it was determined by the members of the Citizens Facilities Committee that the most responsible approach for our master facilities plan.
Classrooms of Today
Today’s classrooms have flexible learning spaces to accommodate project-based learning and rich technology, innovation, critical thinking, collaboration and communication. “The visioning process with district stakeholders this past winter provided a clear message that our buildings should reflect spaces that promote teaching and learning concepts for 21st century skills,” said Hegedish. Today’s classrooms have more flexible seating arrangements. Buildings have more open-air learning commons to provide for increased creativity in learning as students work on team projects, learn to communicate, and collaborate more effectively with their peers. “Our community has told us loud and clear that all of these skills are vital to prepare our children for their futures; be it college, the workforce, and even for jobs that may not yet exist. We need facilities and educational environments in the City of Independence to make this happen.”
Enhanced Security for Students and Staff
Student and staff security is a top priority and the current buildings do not meet safety standards. Hardened entrances, remote door activation, camera systems and other security features will be constructed and installed to help create a safe learning environment. In addition, our city safety forces will be in close proximity and our two school resource officers will each be assigned to their own building.
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