facilities committee meeting

Project Manager Michael S. Myers of Fanning Howey speaks during a Hillsdale Local Schools new facilities meeting Wednesday.

JEROMESVILLE - Where should Hillsdale Local Schools build its new building and what kinds of spaces should the building contain?

These are the questions district leaders and facilities committee members are considering as they make plans to construct a single new building to house pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. The building will be built on district land near the existing Hillsdale High School, but its exact placement has not been determined. 

Superintendent Steve Dickerson said he estimates the project will cost about $42 million and believes the debt can be paid off in 20 years without raising tax dollars, thanks to Rover Pipeline revenue. The district aims to have the new buildings open in August 2022. 

Project manager Michael Myers of Dublin-based architecture firm Fanning and Howey reviewed options with and took feedback from members of the facilities committee Wednesday. The site plan and building features the district chooses will impact the project's cost and could displace the high school football program from its home field for one or two seasons. 

Myers showed examples of five possible preliminary site plans for the project. 

Option 1 would place the building directly in front of the existing high school. Though that location would offer the benefit of an already developed, flat site, Myers said the option has been all but ruled out because of traffic and concerns. 

Options 2 and 2b would place the building behind the existing football stadium. With option 2, the stadium would remain as-is. In option 2b, the stadium would be moved to the east and rotated to a north-south orientation rather than its current east-west orientation.

Option 2b could provide additional parking spaces and a better stadium experience but would come at an additional cost. That option could be considered as an alternate to option 2, meaning the stadium would only be moved if there was additional money left in the project budget down the road. 

One downside of option 2 would be that the building site is sloped, so the building would have to be built into a hillside or the site would have to be filled in with additional dirt. Another downside, committee members said, would be that the new building would be less visible behind the old stadium.

Option 3 would place the new building on the site of the existing football stadium and would move the stadium to the south, behind the new building. While committee members seemed to like this plan, one downside would be that the existing stadium would have to be removed at the beginning of the project. The football team would have to find an alternative place to play or may even be forced to play away games only for a year or two, Myers said. 

Option 4 would put the new building east of the existing stadium. This would present grading challenges on the sloped land and would put the building considerably farther from the existing high school, which is likely to remain standing and to continue to be used in some capacity. Sight line issues could also be a problem for traffic flow. 

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Myers indicated his team is working to modify the potential site plans based on feedback from the district. Newer plans likely will be shown to the public at Falcon Funfest Aug. 17 at the high school. The event includes various family-friendly activities from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. and features a 4 p.m. new facilities informational meeting followed by a 5 p.m. session on the district's two upcoming renewal levies. 

Dickerson said he welcomes feedback from the community on the various site plan options. The slideshow containing images of the site plans will soon be available on the district's new building website

In addition to site plans, the committee spent a portion of Wednesday's meeting discussing the types of academic and administrative spaces that could be included in the building. Committee members have been touring newer buildings in other districts learn about options. 

Some of the choices the district will have to make include:

  • Will the building have a single administrative office or separate offices for the elementary and middle/high schools? A consolidated office may have a single point of entry or multiple public-facing entrances with a centralized back end. 
  • How will classroom spaces accommodate the flexible and collaborative nature of current and future educational models? Will classrooms be built in ways that allow walls to be opened up between classrooms or into extended learning areas in hallways? If so, what are the tradeoffs between visibility and security when considering possible features such as glass garage-style doors?
  • What kinds of common areas will be included? For example, will the building's cafeteria have separate dining areas for younger and older students? What kind of library, media center or makerspace areas will best serve students in the present and future? Will there be non-traditional spaces like "learning stairs" or an outdoor amphitheatre? 
  • Will there be traditional group restrooms or individual restrooms?
  • Will teachers have their desks in their own classrooms or in shared team spaces to facilitate teacher collaboration and promote flexibility of classroom spaces?
  • Does the building need a dedicated storm shelter for use during a tornado? This feature would likely cost an additional $1 million. 

For more information or to provide feedback, community members are encouraged to attend the new facilities informational meeting 4 p.m. Aug. 17 at Hillsdale High School during Falcon Funfest or to contact superintendent Steve Dickerson at 419-368-6231.