Cuyahoga Falls City School District is looking at a do-over.
Since the district's failed attempt last year to pass a bond issue to build a new campus on the site of Bolich Middle School and the former Newberry School, and improve existing buildings, the district has been seeking the community's thoughts on where to go next.
"Uniting For Our Future" is the new name of the group that meets the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. Hosted by the district's superintendent, the group's second meeting took place in the high school's Little Theater on Sept. 14. Around 50 people attended.
"I am sincere," said Superintendent Dr. Todd Nichols. "I want your input. We've hit the reset button."
Nichols answered the most frequently asked questions that were received at the group's first meeting Aug. 24. Known then as "Building Our Future Together," the group has changed its name, he pointed out.
The name was changed on the recommendation of members of the business community, Nichols said, based on a fear that voters would confuse any proposed bond issue with an upcoming issue on the November ballot. Before anything new is proposed by the district, voters will be asked on Nov. 8 to renew a 9.97-mill replacement levy that was approved in May 2011. This levy generates more than $7.3 million annually, he said, and it expires at the end of this year.
"If it doesn't pass in November, we immediately lose for the next half of this fiscal year $3.65 million in revenue," he said.
Questions and Answers
FAQ's submitted by attendees of the previous meeting focused on how the district arrived at the master facilities plan it adopted.
Why build on the Bolich/Newberry site? Because of size, Nichols said. The Bolich/Newberry footprint, 45 acres, is about 4.5 times the size of the high school property, 9.9 acres, he said.
Why does the district want/need a campus environment? Nichols said many districts are going to a campus setting, including neighbor Woodridge Local Schools.
Why not build on the current high school site? The city's Community Core Strategic Plan of 2008 included campus plans at Bolich/Newberry, Nichols said. That was in place when he came to the district.
What about traffic in that area? Nichols said a campus will alleviate traffic, not increase it. Students in grades 7-12 will be transported to the new campus in the plan, he said. Traffic flow will be on campus, not off, he added.
What will remain at the high school? Nichols said the auditorium, as well as the basketball and football facilities would stay. "You can't duplicate the auditorium," he said, adding the stadium would get turf and new bleachers.
Why was the plan segmented? Because, the superintendent explained, Ohio voters typically do not pass a bond issue more than 6 mills. Completing everything proposed with one bond would require 10 mills, he said.
Nichols said something has to be done.
Recently, sewage backed up into the high school because of a tile 1920s-era city sewer pipe under the school. It was a city project, he said, and it was fixed, but not without the necessity of digging a hole in the high school floor to get to the pipe. And the century-old sewer pipe is still there, he added, and likely to rupture again.
Nichols said the next meeting's agenda will be driven by the questions participants write down on index cards provided that night.