Oberlin Public School Expands Campus

Kristopher Fraser

The Oberlin Public School System recently decided to expand its facilities. OPS is seeking land currently owned by the College in order to add four more buildings to the Oberlin High School. The nine-acre plot in question has a purchase cost of approximately $50,000, but the college is offering to make a deal with OPS to sell the land for a shockingly low fraction of the cost — a total charge of only one dollar.

Superintendent of Oberlin Public Schools John Schroth wrote in an email that there were many important considerations that factored into the expansion plan —proximity to campus, for one.

“It was important in planning for the future of Oberlin Public School facilities… keeping our schools close to the Oberlin campus was an important consideration.”

If the deal reached fruition, it will represent a community effort between OTS, the College, and the greater Oberlin Community­­ and there is ample potential for inter-community collaboration.  “That is why the Oberlin High School cite was chosen for expansion,” Schroth said.  “Oberlin Schools would like input from all community stakeholders in the development and design of the new school building.”

According to Schroth, the College owns a wealth of property­­, and abundance gave way to altruism. “Oberlin owns a great deal of property all over town,” Schroth said. “The College has agreed to set aside the property for possible purchase … from what I was told, the property was not in any of the College’s long term plans.”

In 2012, Schroth approached the Oberlin administration with a master plan: to convert nine acres of land — south of the high school — into a new campus. The new campus will accommodate a full range of ages:  Kindergarten through 12th grades.

“The master plan will consolidate all of our students into one connected building,” Schroth said. The additional nine acres of the land will provide all the students in the Oberlin area with the facilities they need.  The College may wield financial control, but OTS maintains creative autonomy. “The additional land will give us more flexibility in the overall site design. It was important to have the option to purchase before site design could begin,” Schroth said.

The proposal to expand OPS will undergo the democratic process and be put up for a voter referendum; OTS intends to design a financial package, ready for the ballot during the Nov. elections of next year.  “We would like to have a financial package up for voter approval in November of 2014,” Schroth said. If the ballot measure passes, construction can begin as early as next spring, with the potential for completion in late 2017 or 2018. According to Schroth, “Oberlin College has been extremely supportive of [us] during our planning process.” When asked if OTS will seek out more land for future expansion, he said, “[we] would not rule out that possibility in the future.”