(published on May 6, 2016)
Throughout the past year, Oberlin City Schools Board of Education has been working through the process of replacing the district’s current school buildings with more efficient facilities. The current school buildings are not serving the community in healthy ways, board members say, and it’s time for a change.
John Monteleone has been selected as Oberlin City Schools’ new assistant superintendent, the most recent change the school board has made. He is currently serving as principal at Washington Elementary School in Lorain and is set to take office come August.
As assistant superintendent, Monteleone will organize teacher professional development, testing and monitoring and reporting on gifted students. He will also be responsible for curriculum alignment, an increase in the number of IB diplomas for the 2016–2017 academic year and keeping the school community updated.
Monteleone would also oversee the potential coupling of the Prospect and Eastwood elementary schools in addition to his other responsibilities.
The Board of Education plans to place a bond issue on the November ballot for the construction of a new school facility. However, it is still weighing the pros and cons of building a new pre-K through fifth grade building first and a new sixth through twelfth grade school later or tackling the construction all at once.
“There appears to be a cost advantage to building it all at once,” said Ken Stanley, president of the Board of Education. “One project costs less than two projects. If you do it in two phases, you have to figure out how you’re going to run the school in between.”
Rolling the construction into a single project would save the district an estimated $3 million, according to board member Barry Richard, but would place a more immediate tax burden on the community.
On its own, the new pre-K through fifth grade school would cost about $16.5 million.
The cost of building a single pre-K through 12th grade building has yet to be determined, though the board expects a thorough financial evaluation of the construction costs by its May 10 meeting.
Building anew is ultimately more cost-effective than renovating the existing schools. Though renovating Prospect and Eastwood would be about two-thirds the cost of a new building, the district would not receive financial assistance from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission.
Additionally, completing renovations would do little to improve the energy inefficiency of the schools, nor would it affect the current issue of oversized classrooms. When Eastwood and Prospect were built in 1955 and 1960, respectively, the district had about twice its current student population, according to Stanley.
A new building would increase energy and operational savings and the number of parking spaces. Combining the two elementary schools into one would also ensure that supplies could be more equitably distributed between classrooms.
“Making the building energy efficient is a priority,” Hall said.