Thursday, June 27, 2013

GCS Superintendent Fries Answers a Ton of Frequently Asked Questions

GCS Supertenfent Douglas Fries passed on this comprehensive collection of answers to some frequently asked questions (many asked several times via the Sidebar Chat). Read over them and see the district's responses. If you have a question not listed here or would like further information on any of the ones below, you can email Mr. Fries at or contact the campaign through

If the levy fails, is it possible that the state could come in and condemn some or all of our old buildings?
Repairs are more likely to be required prior to a building being condemned. However, at any time a major safety issue could cause a building to be condemned or shut down. School buildings have many ongoing inspections that must meet certain requirements. These inspections are done to maintain safety for all people using the buildings. Examples of these inspections include fire alarm and pull stations, kitchen health and safety (including freezer temperatures) waste water plant, well and domestic water at rural facilities, asbestos re-inspection (when contained in buildings) boiler, and insurance companies reviewing of the grounds and content. Any of these inspections could require districts to make repairs or maintenance to their buildings. These inspections could result in large item repairs to some of our buildings.

What is going to happen to the old buildings? As taxpayers, we want to make sure these will not continue to cost us money once they are vacated.
The old buildings will not be kept by the school district. They will either be torn down or sold. The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission will fund the demolition and abatement of the three elementary buildings along with the Junior High School if it is determined to be in the best public interest to do so. There is money allocated at the rate of 57% local and 43% from Ohio to handle the cost of demolition and abatement. The building contents can be used or sold, and the remainder of the ground could be used for green space or sold to the highest bidder. Should it be determined that the buildings have a use to the public or private citizens which will benefit the community, they could be considered for any purpose available or sold at the time.

Conversely, are we going to be forced by the state to tear down all of our vacated buildings? What if we want to use or sell one of the buildings? Will we be permitted to do that?
Ohio will fund 43% of the cost of demolition and abatement which is anticipated to be a total of more than $3,000,000. Each building will be assessed separately for potential community uses. The State will only share in abatement if the buildings are razed within the project. If a determination is made to demolish the buildings at a later date, it would be entirely on the taxpayers to fund such a project.

The entire Board of Education is behind the Superintendent and endorses this School Bond Issue and our community seems to be pulling together to support it. What is different about this election than the ones in the past?
The entire Board of Education and Administration is in full support of this bond issue. The Board of Education voted unanimously to bring the issue to the public. What is different is the millage is less, and there is no income tax. The project is funded over 37 years for the bond issue, rather than the 28 years used in prior elections, and the added years have reduced the amount of taxes annually. Interest rates are lower, also contributing to a lower individual tax. Finally, there is more of a need today to upgrade facilities to improve security and safety.

Does our new superintendent have experience with passing levies for new schools and renovations to existing buildings?
Mr. Fries was the junior high school assistant principal for one year and junior high principal for two years at Piqua when they constructed and opened a brand new junior high school. He assisted in the coordination of moving two junior high schools that stood separate for 60 years into one new single junior high school. After being a part of opening the building, he oversaw the completion of the entire punch list of more than 400 items to the building.

Mr. Fries was a superintendent for 11 years at Lincolnview Local Schools in Van Wert and completed an entire building project which included a new 7-12 building and a renovated elementary. He completed this project with Garmann Miller Architects and Engineers. This was a $21,000,000 dollar project that came in on schedule and under budget. This project was also through the OFCC, as is the proposed Greenville project.

What upgrades will be done at the high school?

  • New roofing
  • Plumbing and fixture upgrades
  • Window replacement
  • Security system improvement
  • Handicapped accessible doors
  • Technology upgrades to cabling
  • Cameras and equipment
  • Increasing cafeteria space
  • Additional equipment in kitchen
  • Upgrades in HVAC

Do you have an artist drawing of what the high school will look like? Do you have a proposed floor plan? Is that set in stone or does the real planning begin after the money for the project is approved?
There is a conceptual drawing of the K-8 project located at several places around the community. It lists the proposed renovation to the high school which is also listed in these answers on the web site. There would be another year’s worth of different levels of designing that the architect would complete with the assistance of the OFCC after a positive vote by the community for the bond issue.

Why are we not building a K-12?
We are not building a K-12 facility because of the overall expenses to that project. Under the OFCC regulations our three elementary and junior high buildings do not qualify for funding with the State for renovations. Therefore, we have no option to renovate those buildings with State of Ohio help. They must be new. Our high school building is our only building that did qualify for renovations. Another issue with the high school is that the vocational lab spaces do not qualify for split funding with the State. Therefore, all labs at the vocational building would be a totally locally funded initiative at 100% local costs. The district believes the best option and most cost effective is a segmented project with the OFCC of a new K-8 facility with renovations to the high school at our local expense. This provides a new facility to our oldest buildings and upgrades our high school as well.

The BOE needs to set up as many guided tours as they can manage so that people can see the condition of the buildings for themselves.
The Board of Education has set up tours in the past for buildings at South and the Junior High Schools. A few service clubs have taken tours in the past of South School. We recently hosted a 100 year celebration of South School at the end of the school year and had students available to give guided tours of that building. Anyone who would like to tour South, East, Woodland or the Junior High School buildings is welcome to contact the central office and ask for an administrator to conduct a visit for you.

Why are we spending money on buildings that are built with a focus on future growth when there is no indication that we will have future growth in our student population?
We are actually building the new facility at the enrollment projection as provided to us from the OFCC by their required ten year projection formula. This number for us is just over 1,800 students for the K-8 facility. If you experience growth, you can normally meet these needs by increasing classrooms by a few students or by converting lab or study hall space. If a substantial increase of students occurs over time, the buildings are designed so additional new space could easily be attached at the end of a wing. This would be a good problem to have because it would mean additional state funding for additional students.

Won’t the district be coming back to us in the near future to ask for new high school?
This bond issue is a segmented project for a new K-8 building and a renovated high school co-funded by the OFCC. We are asking to make renovations to the high school to allow that building to be updated and more capable of delivering a twenty first century education to our high school students. These upgrades will allow our newest district building, the high school, to be of service for years to come.

I hope the decision makers on this issue are above board, honest and the process is transparent as to their plans and ideas. People are smarter than they are given credit and will see through any attempt to put one over on them.
This bond issue project has been communicated throughout the community and by various types of media for the past month. It will continue to be communicated with the public up until the August 6th election. The complete details of the project were shared in an article from the Superintendent in the Early Bird, Daily Advocate, Darke Journal and County News Online. That article is still posted on the website. The project is completely above board. It is a 64.5 million dollar project. If the community passes a 45 million dollar 5.19 bond issue and .50 mill required maintenance levy, the State will provide 19.5 million dollars to the project. This will provide a district-wide fix to our school buildings and upgrade them to enhance our educational delivery system.

Why do we need a bigger high school cafeteria when there are no indications that our student population will be increasing?
Because of increased academic requirements and testing accountability, there continues to be a need for more academic time in instruction during the day. There also continues to be more and more safety concerns in today’s society. A bigger kitchen and cafeteria would allow the school to service more students in a shorter period of time to help us with both of these issues in the future. It also allows us to put more students in this area for other grade level or multiple grade level student activities. Group collaborative space is a twenty first century educational process.

How can this bond be put on the ballot when it’s been denied 3+ times? Don’t you have to wait 3-4 years before it can be put on the ballot again?
Greenville Schools is considered a lapsed district by the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission. Our percentage of state money will be appropriated by the OFCC when we pass our local portion. Our bond council encourages us to pass this issue sooner rather than later to take advantage of low interest rates. We also believe new facilities can provide safer and more secure educational environments that operate more efficiently. The district can continue to put the issue on the ballet as often as it chooses because we are a lapsed district. This decision comes with the board and district receiving public input each time.

What does a new $45MM school have to do with learning and education? Are you saying that kids cannot learn and be educated in the schools we already have?
A new school facility improves the educational climate and environment for education to take place. This develops pride in the students, staff and community. Many districts show increased learning and educational outcomes. Newer facilities enhance the educational delivery process and provide updated technology to develop a skill that is a necessity today. It also allows students to attend school in a safer, more environmentally friendly and efficient operating facility.

The BOE tries to keep these levies quiet and slip them through when no one is paying attention.
There is nothing about this levy that is quiet. No one is trying to slip anything through. It is being talked about throughout the community. There is a definite need for upgraded facilities for our school system. That need is not going away. On the other hand, low interest rates could go away and could end up costing more later.

The levy won’t just build new schools it will also be used to pay teachers and administrators salary increases.
The bond issue can only be spent to pay the bond and maintenance of the facility. It cannot be used for the general fund to pay teachers and administrators salaries. By law the bond fund is separate from the general operating fund.

Why is the new building going to be bigger than the totals of the existing buildings? Our student population is shrinking.
The new building is only slightly bigger than the existing four buildings that it will replace. Extra footage is in increased classroom, storage, gymnasium, and cafeteria space which are desperately needed to upgrade our facilities.

What are the plans for sidewalks and the new school? What about sidewalks in the surrounding neighborhoods?
The district is working with the City of Greenville and Greenville Police Department to apply for a grant from the Safe Routes to School Program to assist with sidewalks around the school areas. A committee of school, city, police officials and other professional community members has been working the past four months to put this grant together. We are proud to have community members that are committing time to apply for this grant.

How many students do you project will be using the new building?
The total enrollment projection of students using this new building is 1,805 by OFCC projections.

It seems that the district and the builders are hiding something. Why aren’t the conceptual drawings of the new school and the high school upgrades more specific?
Architect and Engineers will only go so far with conceptual drawings of a new school before the bond issue is passed. Drawings become more specific during schematic and construction design phases.

Why is remodeling and retrofitting the existing elementary buildings not an option?
The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission has a rule that if a building cost for renovation is more than 67% of replacement cost, the building must be replaced. The OFCC assessment of all our elementary and the junior high buildings is that these facilities should be replaced.

Do I have to live inside the city limits of Greenville to vote in the August 6th election?
No, you do not have to live inside of the Greenville City limits to vote at the August 6th election of the bond issue. You must be a registered voter in a precinct that is a part of Greenville Schools.

Why put the issue on in a special election and what is the approximate cost?
We are putting the issue on a special election because we are concerned about interest rates going up. We also want to build a safer, more environmentally friendly building and eliminate maintenance costs of older buildings as soon as possible. We want to improve and enhance the educational delivery process for our students as soon as possible. An estimated cost of the special election is $16,000 to $25,000. We have approximately 22,000 people in the school district, making the cost minimal per person. The district pays to put an issue on the ballot at any time, not just for special elections.

An excellent rating means you did the bare minimum on the tests. Is an excellent rating really something to brag about?
An excellent rating on the School Report Card is presently the second highest accountability grade that a school district can receive. The district received this rating the past two years. Beginning this year, there will be an entirely new report card system that will show a dashboard of grades in a variety of different categories.

I don’t have children or grandchildren who attend school in Greenville. Why should I care about the condition of the schools?
Hopefully, one would want to improve the educational facilities for your neighbors, friends, and children of your community, allowing them to be educated to twenty first century standards. Newer schools could play a role in attracting more residents, businesses and industry employees and help boost the local economy. Everyone has had someone help fund their education.

If the Levy doesn’t pass, how will the district pay for the cost of all the upgrades that need to be done at the existing buildings just to get through day-to-day problems until it does eventually pass? Do we have an estimate of the cost of all of these upgrades?  
Currently, the district uses the PERMANENT IMPROVEMENT Levy that is in place and general fund dollars to get the day to day problems addressed.   We do not have a cost to do all of the upgrades.  The OFCC has completed an assessment of all of the buildings, and the renovations at Woodland Primary, East Intermediate, South Middle School, and Greenville Junior High School have exceeded the 2/3 rule that the OFCC has in place. Based on the State’s evaluation, it is too costly to renovate these buildings, and the OFCC will not co-fund renovations at these sites.

How much could you save if you left out air conditioning? 
In the K-8 building project we cannot leave out the air conditioning as this is a requirement by OFCC.  If we do not upgrade the HVAC at the High School, the savings would be an estimated $3.16 million.

If you live in an old house and the roof is leaking, you should replace the roof, not build a new one.  
Over the years the district has maintained all of the roofs. We have a preventive maintenance plan, and evaluations/inspections are completed on a scheduled basis. The roofs of the district’s buildings are just one small part of the deterioration of our school properties.

Why is geothermal not part of this project? 
Geothermal is an efficient option from an energy standpoint;   however, it comes at huge upfront cost.  The new technologies that are here today are starting to compete with the efficiencies of geothermal.  If we can get similar efficiencies without the huge upfront cost, it would be a benefit to the district.  OFCC does not co-fund geothermal, so the added costs would be entirely on the district and taxpayers.

What will the new school exterior be built with? 
The school will be built with some sort of masonry material. Example: Split face block, brick.

Will it cost taxpayers additional money to furnish the building once it is constructed:  
The furnishing costs are already built into the bond issue,  and these items are  co-funded by OFCC.

Where is the safe room for storms and shootings in the new school?
There are designated areas throughout the school that students/staff will go in the event of a storm. We will work with EMA and local safety agencies during the design process and during construction to designate safe areas.  The engineers will work with district administrators, local fire and police to give security options.  Security will be one of the main topics when designing this new school.  In recent years and months there are new ways of integrating security in schools and we will review those options thoroughly in the planning/design phase.

Where are the solar panels? 
At the present time we have not discussed solar panels, however, the OFCC requires a Leadership in Energy Environmental Design (LEED) Certification in order to review all options of LEED along with the requirements that Greenville will have to do in order to achieve the minimum LEED certification Silver rating.  At that time, solar panels will be discussed once the design process is started.

Where is the elevator for the handicapped students?
The building will have an elevator per the requirements of the Building Code.  The elevator location will be determined when the floor plan is finalized.

Featured Posts

/* Track outbound links in Google Analytics */