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Yellow Springs Board of Education | Facilities options narrow to six

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At a Wednesday, March 29 work session of the YS Board of Education, board members winnowed the number of plans for potential facilities upgrades under consideration from eight options to six. During the session — and in preceding meetings — members of the board reviewed each of the options with regard to aspects of the physical space represented in each potential plan option and associated cost estimates.

The first plan to be eliminated from consideration was Option C2, an option that includes replacing the elementary, middle and high schools with new facilities at both current campuses. Board Vice President Dorothée Bouquet summed up the board members’ reasoning for culling the plan, saying: “I don’t see the point of adding two new buildings if they are not on a single campus to minimize duplicate spaces.”

The board also agreed to eliminate Option C4 — which includes building a new, smaller K–4 school at Mills Lawn and renovating the middle and high schools into a 5–12 facility — noting that building a smaller elementary school would offer less size flexibility than Option C3, which would present the opportunity for a combination of demolition, renovation and new construction at both campuses. 

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At press time, the board was set to hold its next regular meeting on Thursday, April 13; according to agenda documents posted ahead of the meeting, if time allows, the board will continue to pare down the options at that meeting, which will have taken place by the publication of this issue. The board aims to narrow the options to one at its May regular meeting ahead of a November levy vote.

Facilities options currently under consideration:

Option A1Estimated size and cost: 124,214 square feet, $36.3 million; no OFCC rebate
• Renovate current buildings at both Mills Lawn campus and the McKinney Middle and Yellow Springs High schools campus, including repairing the exteriors of all buildings and -complete systems replacements at both campuses;
• Demolition of the modular band room at Mills Lawn and addition of a new band room;
• Renovation to create a secure vestibule at Mills Lawn;
• Demolition of the modular unit that houses McKinney Middle School and the addition of five new classrooms;
• Demolition of the current band room at the middle and high schools and the addition of a new band room;
• Construction of new offices and secure vestibule at the middle and high schools.

Option A2 Estimated size and cost: 133,539 square feet, $47.7 million; no OFCC rebate
• Build on A1 with deeper renovations to “like-new” conditions;
• Construction of a new kitchen, a new art room and an additional music room at Mills Lawn;
• Construction of an additional music/performing arts room at the middle and high schools.

Option B1Estimated size and cost: 123,452 square feet, $58.1 million; qualifies for estimated future OFCC rebate of $11.8 million
•Demolish the current buildings at both campuses and build a new K–12 facility at the middle and high school’s current East Enon Road location.

Option B2Estimated size and cost: 124,452 square feet, $54.3 million; -qualifies for estimated future OFCC rebate of $11.1 million.
• Demolish Mills Lawn;
• Combined demolition, renovation and new construction for a K–12 campus at East Enon Road, maintaining the current middle and high school gym and the facility’s 2002 addition.

Option C1Estimated size and cost: 155, 064 square feet, from $64.1 million to $67.6 million, depending on the scope of renovations; qualifies for estimated future OFCC rebate of $9.9 million
• Renovate Mills Lawn for use as a K–4 school;
• Construct a new facility for grades 5–12 at East Enon Road.

Option C3Estimated size and cost: 155,064 square feet, from $60.8 million to $64.3 million, depending on the scope of renovations; qualifies for estimated future OFCC rebate of $9.3 million
• Renovate Mills Lawn into a K–4 facility;
• Combined renovation, demolition and new construction at East Enon Road to create a 5–12 facility.

Following the March work session, the district held its third listening session concerning potential facilities upgrades for district schools on Wednesday, April 5. The session began with a presentation from the district’s contracted architect, Mike Ruetschle, of Ruetschle Architects, who presented the upgrade options currently being considered by the board.

A few dozen community members attended the listening session, with those in attendance comprising parents of current and former YS Schools students, local seniors and Yellow Springs business owners. Also present were several members of the Facilities Committee, which worked last year to investigate costs associated with renovating the district’s current facilities.

Following the presentation from Ruetschle, 21 of those in attendance spoke, offering opinions on the current options and concerns for the board to consider as its members head into finalizing an option for the ballot. Board members listened and took notes on the comments, but did not respond.

Several of those in attendance spoke in favor of Option A1, citing its low cost as a main reason for their support.

“I think that the cost, unfortunately, is a political reality,” local resident Laura Curliss said. “Even though I personally might like a different choice, I think probably A1 is the choice that you need to make.”

Resident Julia Bergman-Lee added that, though she initially did not favor Option A1, she now considers it an acceptable compromise for “the greater good.”

“‘The greater good’ being to keep Yellow Springs Schools open to preserve offering the type of education we cherish for years to come,” Bergman-Lee said.

Others voiced support for options that included at least one new building, like B1 or C1, citing issues such as cost and energy efficiency in the long term.

“I think over time, having one location for our schools — a single campus to maintain a single roof, etc. — will save us money in the long term as we pay for this over generations,” local resident Abigail Cobb said in support of Option B1.

“Fiscal conservatism is a value that has long been used in this country to justify not investing in social welfare and education,” resident Jalana Lazar later said. “New builds will allow for efficiency in energy, which I believe is a value this village holds. … I would endorse any plan that includes some new building.”

Others who spoke did not make arguments for specific plans, but offered suggestions to the board on its selection process. Facilities Committee Member Jerry Papania urged the board to schedule another listening session for the public following its April 13 regular meeting — which is slated to include information from district Treasurer Jay McGrath on the tax implications of each plan for voters — so that the community has “ample opportunity to weigh in.”

Resident Naomi Bongorno, the final speaker of the evening, urged all present to consider the nationwide public school teacher shortage when considering how potential upgrades might affect faculty and staff retention for the school district.

“We’re competing with all of our neighboring districts,” she said. “Yellow Springs is special, but we are not so special that we can compete with a new school.”

Addressing the board with a sentiment echoed by other speakers throughout the listening session, Bongorno added: “Good luck — I really don’t know how you’re going to do this.”

The Board of Education is slated to hold another work session on Friday, April 21, in the Mills Lawn gym. No time or agenda for the session were available by press time.

To view documents presented at the April 5 listening session, go to and click on “BoardDocs: Meetings and Agendas.”

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