Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Board of Education Considers Potential Plans For New Oberlin City Schools Facility

Erin Koo
Board of Education seeks to renovate or replace Oberlin High School and Langston Middle School (pictured above).

On Nov. 8, the Oberlin City Schools Board of Education held its monthly public meeting. The board addressed the potential of building a new district facility.

Board Members include President Farah Emeka, Vice President Jo-Anne Steggall, Rosa Gadsden, Anne Schaum, and Ken Stanley. Treasurer Robert Rinehart and Superintendent David Hall were also present. 

Board Members, Rinehart, Hall, and community members heard presentations from an architecture firm and construction company. ThenDesign Architecture, based in Willoughby, and Hammond Construction, based in Canton, put together research and information compiled since they began working on the project this summer. 

Cheryl Fisher, a planner from TDA, presented on the challenges associated with Langston Middle School and Oberlin High School. Fisher noted how the aging facility was deteriorating and proving costly to maintain. More so, Langston Middle School and Oberlin High School currently have a high square footage per student. 

Another raised concern was of teachers working in multiple, spread-out buildings. Oberlin High School is on North Pleasant Street and Oberlin Elementary School is on North Park Street nearby. However, Langston Middle School is located on North Main Street. 

Jo-Anne Steggall noted the impact of building a new school facility near these other schools. 

“By putting the buildings next to each other, we can share resources,” Steggall said. “Right now our band, orchestra, and choir teachers travel between all three schools. We will eliminate the need for a lot of that travel.” 

Fisher addressed three different options for a new facility. The first entails building a sixth- through eighth-grade facility, and constructing a ninth- to 12th-grade portion of the building in the future. The total cost for building the sixth through eighth grade facility is $28,085,042. 

The second option entails building a ninth- through 12th-grade building, demolishing the existing Oberlin High School, and constructing a sixth- to eighth-grade building in the future. The total cost for the ninth- through 12th-grade facility is $40,135,979. In addition, Fisher also pointed out the possibility of retaining and renovating select portions of Oberlin High School, like the gym and auditorium. 

A third option is the most expensive, totaling $63,735,148. Fisher discusses how it’s possible to build a sixth- through 12th-grade building and demolish Oberlin High School. Like the second option, Fisher added that the cost can be reduced if certain portions of Oberlin High School are retained. 

TDA representatives addressed the preliminary timeline of developing a new facility. By February 2024, the Board of Education is likely to approve moving forward with a master plan. Once the board approves a definitive plan for a new facility, there will be a bond campaign to raise funds from August to November 2024. 

As of right now, the Board of Education is planning to put out a bond issue but is unsure of the amount. Emeka spoke to the Review about the bond campaign. 

“My understanding is that you can go to the taxpayers and put on the November ballot a bond issue that will provide funding to pay for a portion of the new building project,” Emeka said. “There are some limitations based on law and any bond issues that we already have as a district on how much you can go to the taxpayer for. … What those numbers are, I don’t know right now, but we would have to go to the community and put on the ballot the bond issue.” 

Steggall commented on the significance of this project.

“I have three children, one of whom graduated from Oberlin High School in 2022,” Steggall said. “The other two that are still currently enrolled in the school system. … It is important to invest in all of our children as a community.”

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