Grandview Heights Schools’ 2020 holds excitement as construction, renovations begin

Originally published in This Week News by Alan Froman

It won’t just be Grandview Heights students and staff getting to work after the district’s winter break ends Monday, Jan. 6.

Soon after classes resume, construction is expected to begin on the first phase of Grandview Heights Schools’ facilities project.

A groundbreaking ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. Jan. 11 in the Grandview Heights High School gym, 1587 W. Third Ave., Superintendent Andy Culp said.

The event will include an outdoor component if weather permits, he said.

“We hope everyone can plan to attend to help us celebrate the beginning of this important project to address our facility needs,” Culp said.

“We would expect work on the first phase to begin in the days after we hold the ceremony,” he said. “Fences will go up and you will be seeing dirt moving. A lot of the work initially will be underground to prepare for the actual building construction to begin.”

Culp said some disorder will be inevitable.

“There is going to be some disruption during the project,” he said. “It will be disruptive to everyone: students, staff and community members.

“We are working to take steps to mitigate that disruption and, most importantly, ensure student safety.”

The district plans to schedule a meeting with neighbors of Edison Intermediate/Larson Middle School this month to provide more information about what to expect during the construction of the new school building, Culp said.

Construction of the new building is expected to be completed in summer 2021, Culp said.

At that time, a major renovation project at Grandview Heights High School will begin.

High school students will attend classes in the new building while their school is being renovated. Students in grades 4-8 will continue to attend class at the current Edison/Larson building.

The renovation project is slated to be complete by winter 2023. High school students then will return to their renovated school and students in grades 4-8 will move into the new building.

The existing Edison/Larson building and the kindergarten annex will be demolished in the project’s final phase.

Upgrades to improve safety and security and ADA compliance will take place during the next two summers at Stevenson Elementary School as part of the project.

The new 4-8 building will be constructed in the open space between the existing Edison/Larson building and the high school.

Construction trailers will be set up in a staging area behind and to the east of Edison/Larson and near the annex, which primarily is used by the district’s FIRST robotics and Science Olympiad teams.

“The fence will be put up to make sure that (no one) not wearing a hard hat enters the construction area,” Culp said.

Students and other pedestrians will continue to walk on the sidewalk area on the school side of Oakland Avenue, “but certain portions will be tight and encroached upon” during construction, he said.

Parking also will be affected by the project, Culp said.

Much of the lot located west of the high school gym on Oakland will be cut off, as will a portion of the northern end of the parking lot by Edison/Larson, he said.

Elford Construction and Corna Kokosing are overseeing the construction of the new building and the renovation of the high school building.

Representatives of the companies have been meeting with building principals to work out where staff members will park in order to allow as much public parking as possible at the existing school sites, Culp said.

Throughout the facilities project, Elford plans to send out a monthly newsletter to provide updates on the work taking place, he said.

Culp said he will post regular video “hard-hat updates” that community members will be able to access via social media.

Information also will be provided through fliers and email blasts, he said.

“It’s hard to believe we’re at the point of construction actually getting started,” Culp said. “This has been a long journey, but we’re excited about this project that’s going to update our 4-8 and high school facilities to serve the district and community for generations to come.

“We are going to be involved in a comprehensive construction project for the next three years, and that’s going to be an important focus,” Culp said, “but our priority one is always to maximize and personalize each student’s learning and continue to provide the level of instruction that make sure we are realizing and actualizing that mission statement.”

“Teaching and learning is our mission,” chief academic officer Jamie Lusher said.

The facilities improvements are designed to help provide a better environment for student learning, she said.

The facilities project is being funded through a $55 million bond issue voters approved in November 2018.

“One thing we are excited about from a financial aspect is the offset of the millage from the bond issues that’s a result of the revised compensation agreement we reached (in March 2019) with the city and Nationwide Realty Investors for Grandview Yard,” treasurer Beth Collier said.

The 2018 ballot measure combined a 7.51-mill bond issue to pay for the facilities project with a 1-mill operating levy.

A total of 1.66 mills expired at the end of 2018, resulting in a net increase in 5.85 mills, Collier said.

The revised agreement replaced the previous “waterfall” formula, which set an increasing percentage of revenue the district received as more residential units were built at the Yard, she said.

Under the revised formula, the schools are receiving a flat 45% of the Payments in Lieu of Taxes funds from the Yard, Collier said.

As a result, the increase in millage from the 2018 bond issue will be 2.81 mills, not 5.85, she said.

Property owners will have the amount of their annual tax bills for the bond portion of the ballot measure reduced by about half, from an estimated $205 per $100,000 of property valuation to $102, Collier said.