Difficult challenges are met with effective, creative, student-focused, and fiscally responsible solutions. Take for example Dublin’s rapid increase in students enrolled in the past two years. We’ve added almost 700 students and are on our way to 16,000 students total in the foreseeable future. The District has been engaged in a collaborative conversation with the community since the beginning of last year when enrollment growth challenges were presented to the Board of Education.
In past years, the growth of our District was steady and more predictable as the farm fields yielded to houses. In more recent years, the growth in Dublin Schools is exponential in Plain City, Columbus, Dublin, Delaware County and Union County. In other words, all over the District! Our most immediate and pressing goal is to address the crowded elementary buildings where classroom sizes are crucial. In effectively evaluating how to plan for the future, we asked several crucial questions. First, how could the District finance this in a fiscally responsible fashion? Second, how do we know where the growth trends are before families even move into a neighborhood? Finally, how do we decide what buildings were to receive additions?
In 2008, our community voted for a bond issue to build Elementary 13. Shortly thereafter, a national economic downturn greatly slowed the housing boom in the northwest part of our District and the building was put on hold. In January of 2014, our seasoned leaders, Dr. Hoadley, Treasurer Stephen Osborne, and Board President Lynn May, proposed elementary school classroom additions be constructed and funded with the bond issue approved by the community.
With the assistance of the architectural/engineering firm Garmann and Miller and construction managers from Ruscilli Construction, cost benefit construction evaluations were completed for all of our elementary buildings.
Guided by this information, the District determined that the following buildings should be expanded: Bailey, Glacier Ridge, Scottish Corners, Chapman, Thomas, and Olde Sawmill for a total of 22 new classrooms. Twenty-two additional classrooms are now under construction at these six elementary schools.
By repurposing the bonds to fund the construction of additions to existing buildings, rather than funding the construction of Elementary 13, the District will save about $1.9-million in annual operating costs. Additionally, the redistricting going into effect with the beginning of the 2016-17 school year has been minimal compared to the scope of redistricting that would have been necessary had we opened Elementary 13.
This crucial decision was immense for our District. First, we were able to fund building additions all over the District in a fiscally responsible way. Instead of constructing Elementary 13 in one location and making major changes in boundaries for our elementaries, we found a better plan—a student and neighborhood based plan minimizing the emotional impact of redistricting. More than 90% of our community supported this plan according to surveys and public meetings that took place in 2014. This solution to an immediate need was fiscally sound and forward looking.
What does the future hold? Undoubtedly more growth as the City of Dublin continues their visionary growth for the future as a working, living, thriving community strengthened and centered upon a school district known nationally and locally for providing opportunities for all students. Recently, Dublin City Schools was named one of only 425 school districts in the U.S. and Canada being honored by the College Board with placement on the 6th Annual AP District Honor Roll for increasing access to AP course work while simultaneously maintaining or increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher on AP Exams.
The Dublin City Schools is also in the process of undertaking a master planning process. A committee led by Board of Education member Chris Valentine and Chief Operating Officer Brion Deitsch will be putting together a long-range plan for our District. The master plan group includes principals from all three levels, Treasurer Stephen Osborne, and private sector experts. Think about the opportunities that would abound with such hypothetical possibilities such as year round school and all day kindergarten, as we expand the bounds of opportunity for all students and families in Dublin.
Thank you to our entire community for your support of our District and for your understanding during this K-8 redistricting process.
Together have built a tremendous District for our children and we must all work together to ensure we keep Dublin City Schools at the forefront of America’s best districts. Have a great holiday season.