Olentangy BOE discusses leased building option


By Brandon Klein - bklein@civitasmedia.com



The potential leasing of a vacant building for the Olentangy schools’ administrative office could cost more than $3 million over the next five fiscal years.

The school board will vote on March 16 on whether to move central offices from Shanahan Middle School to the former Modern Medical building, 7840 Graphics Way, to increase preschool capacity after Tuesday night’s discussion of the financial impact.

The board has until March 30 to make a decision.

The district could complete the transition before the upcoming school year, said Jeff Gordon, Olentangy’s director of business and management facilities.

“It will be a tight schedule,” he said.

School officials have said preschool growth has been sporadic for the past decade and has nearly doubled in eight years. The state will also require school districts to have 12 preschool students per classroom instead of 16.

The district now has 27 classrooms for preschool, spread among 10 of its 15 elementary schools.

Moving the central office from Shanahan would provide 12 classrooms and two activity spaces for preschool students. One-time costs for the transition would be about $887,775. The district would lease the nearly 40,000-square-foot building at about $479,500 for the first two and a half years before it increases to nearly $504,000 with annual operating costs at $174,800.

Based on the five-year financial forecast approved in October, the leased building would cost about $3.07 million dollars from 2017 to 2021. The number could change if the district purchases the building in 2020, said Olentangy Treasurer Emily Hatfield.

The purchase price would be an average of multiple appraisals at the time when executed. The minimum sale price would be $4.5 million, but the district is still in the negotiation process.

The board wants to keep its promise to not ask residents for additional funding until 2019, while managing growth and capacity issues throughout the district.

Another factor as part of the consideration is the $13.5 million in bonds that voters approved in 2011 for the 16th elementary school. The district halted plans to build the school back then because the state withdrew an all-day kindergarten requirement.

Olentangy would now need an additional $3.3 million to build elementary school No. 16. The board could go to the ballot in spring 2020 to ask voters to approve up to $9.2 million to fill in the funding gap to build the school and purchase the Modern Medical building.

Other options considered was a preschool-only building and modular classrooms. Not including annual costs, the board could use $12.8 million of the existing levy money meant for the 16th elementary school, while modular classrooms would have a one-time cost of $300,000.

Some board members said those options lack the flexibility for other future uses. Board Vice President Mindy Patrick suggested the district could lease the Modern Medical building and build a preschool-only facility.

Board President Roger Bartz said Olentangy will need a 16th elementary school regardless what option is selected.

By Brandon Klein

bklein@civitasmedia.com

Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.

Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.