Board approves most significant facilities project in 50 years

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(Dec. 20, 2018) -- At its regular monthly meeting this evening, the Board of Education approved moving forward with designing the first construction project to result from the Imagine OPRF facilities master-planning process. Facilities Master Plan Project 1 includes renovation/construction of the following:

  • 76 general education classrooms

  • Classrooms, kitchen, laundry area, sensory room, and ADA-compliant restroom for the Special Education TEAM (Transitional Education with Access to the Mainstream) program

  • First phase of student commons (east first, second, and third floors)

  • Student resource center (library and tutoring center)

  • South Cafeteria

  • Main entrance

  • All-gender restrooms

  • Three science labs

  • Daycare facilities (infant room)

  • ADA-compliant elevator in the north end of the building

The total estimated project cost is $32,631,500. Funding will come from existing cash reserves, thereby avoiding a tax increase to property owners and preserving the district’s debt-free status.

While all the components in Project 1 address important facilities needs, only the items for the Special Education TEAM (Transitional Education with Access to the Mainstream) program address issues that were identified by Imagine as most urgent. Administration based its Project 1 recommendations on what would have a significant and immediate positive impact on students while also taking into consideration the District’s financial uncertainties, previous Board discussions, the significant size and scope of urgent needs, and community input.

The Board also directed the administration to propose a funding plan by May 2020 for addressing additional urgent building needs. Those include:

  • Pool replacement 

  • Locker rooms (boys and all-gender; girls locker rooms were renovated a few years ago)

  • ADA-compliant elevator in the south end of the building 

The Board noted that the administration’s funding plan should specify that the district’s objective is to align spending with revenue and that at least 50% of the estimated total project cost will be covered by private donations of at least $10 million, annual levy increases equal to CPI (Consumer Price Index), and $20 million from capital funds.

The facilities master plan is an outcome of the Imagine OPRF Work Group process. Formed in spring 2017, the Imagine OPRF Work Group was charged with making recommendations to the Board of Education for a fiscally responsible facilities master plan that supports equity and current and future academic programming needs. Imagine OPRF was a largely community-based, 40-member committee that spent approximately 15 months conducting intensive research and gathering stakeholder input to identify facility needs.

On Nov. 15, 2018, the Board accepted the Imagine OPRF Work Group recommendations for a long-term facilities master plan. It's important to note that this master plan is not a construction project, with design and financing of every portion done at the start. Instead, the master plan is a living document that will be reviewed and modified as the impact of early projects is assessed, school needs change, and funding becomes available. In accepting the long-term facilities master plan recommendations, the Board accepted the facility needs that had been identified by the Imagine team; acceptance did not commit the Board to undertaking any of the work nor the recommended sequencing of the projects. Current and future Boards of Education must decide what portions of the master plan to implement, when to schedule the work, and how to fund it.