What’s next? The path to a new Amherst elementary school


By Jason Hawk - jhawk@civitasmedia.com



Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times Amherst Schools superintendent Steven Sayers maps out the two-year path from designing a new school to opening its doors. “It’s going to be very hectic,” he said.


The fates of three aging schools were decided last Monday — Powers, Harris, and Shupe elementaries will be torn to the ground.

A unanimous Amherst board of education vote made official what has long been assumed, that the buildings would be demolished as part of a deal to build a new PK-3 school where Harris stands now on South Lake Street.

“It’s going to be very hectic, I guess is a good word to use, over the next two years,” district superintendent Steven Sayers said, describing how the demolition and construction processes will roll out.

He met Tuesday with Ohio Facilities Construction Commission reps to map out a plan that will culminate with the new school opening in 2019.

The board will first need to hire a firm to design the school building, presumably Clark & Post Architects, which has already provided conceptual drawings.

In February or March, treasurer Barbara Donohue will sell the government bonds that will pay for construction.

Next will be the renewal of an operating levy this coming year that will protect about $2.6 million per year in property tax revenue the school district depends on.

Summer 2017 will see a massive overhaul of the heating and cooling system at Nord Middle School and Steele High School.

Because Harris is marked for destruction, students will be squeezed into four buildings when they return from summer break. Both Fall 2017 and Fall 2018 will see Powers Elementary hosting prekindergarten through second grade, Nord will third through fifth grades, and Amherst Junior High with grades six to eight. Steele will keep its freshman through senior roster.

That will mean moving two of the three modular classroom units from Harris to Nord.

When the new school opens, the district will have need for none of the modular classrooms. The new school will hold prekindergarten through third grade, Nord will host grades four and five, the junior high will keep grades sixth through eight, and Steele will remain the same.

In the meantime, Donohue can hardly contain her excitement about what construction will mean for finances.

She gets to revise her five-year forecast for the Amherst Schools to include an anticipated $500,000 per year savings from using one less building. That forecast, submitted regularly to the state to show the district’s fiscal health, will be presented to the local board in January or February.

Passage of Issue 21, which approved the sale of bonds for school construction, will also held Donohue’s efforts to improve the Amherst Schools’ bond rating.

Right now, the district is rated AA2 and she expects to grab a AA1 rating or possibly AAA. Better ratings mean better interest returns on money the district invests, which over the life of the bond could amount to $1.5 million, Donohue said.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times Amherst Schools superintendent Steven Sayers maps out the two-year path from designing a new school to opening its doors. “It’s going to be very hectic,” he said.

http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2016/11/web1_DSC_6036-1.jpg

Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times Amherst Schools superintendent Steven Sayers maps out the two-year path from designing a new school to opening its doors. “It’s going to be very hectic,” he said.

By Jason Hawk

jhawk@civitasmedia.com