Q: What is the Facilities Master Plan and what does it mean for students?
A: The plan is a set of recommendations representing a rare opportunity to upgrade outdated, deteriorating facilities in Cincinnati Public Schools. For students, the plan means first-class buildings that meet high state standards, have access to the latest technology and are designed to support the district’s educational model.
Q: How is the State of Ohio involved in the plan?
A: The state’s involvement ensures that new or renovated schools built under Cincinnati’s plan meet the same standards as others built in Ohio. The state is providing $210 million for building construction and renovations, which is about 23 percent of the plan's matchable cost.
Q: How will the new and renovated schools be maintained?
A: The Ohio School Facilities Commission requires that a funded preventative-maintenance plan be in place for 23 years after completion of the final building. CPS is setting aside $77 million for the ten years of construction and no less than $13 million per year thereafter to meet the state requirements. The passage in November 2000 of the district's operating levy provided $6 million annually of the needed maintenance funding. These funds will ensure proper maintenance of our buildings for the next four decades.
Q: Does the plan reflect local needs?
A: Yes. The plan was developed in partnership by the state and a CPS team that included district facilities experts, architects and construction managers. The CPS team met with every school community to get input. In some cases, state rules and standards were modified to take into account local concerns, such as a building’s historical value.
Q: How were decisions made about which buildings to rebuild and which to renovate?
A: First, conditions of all buildings were assessed in detail by the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC), the agency directing a statewide effort to upgrade all Ohio school buildings. When the assessment showed the cost to renovate a building — keeping it the same size and basic design — was more than two-thirds of the cost to replace it with a new building, the OSFC generally recommended replacing it with new construction. In certain compelling cases — such as buildings of significant historical value — the state agreed that this rule would be waived.
Q: Why are some newer school buildings recommended for replacement while older buildings are proposed to be renovated?
A: Ironically, some 40- to 60-year-old buildings are more costly to renovate than older ones. Part of the reason is that older buildings were built to last for longer periods. Our schools built in the 1950s and 1960s buildings are engineered in a way that makes it impossible to have sufficient ceiling space to accommodate necessary ductwork for new air-conditioning systems, electricity and sprinkler piping.
Q: Why do any schools have to be closed?
A: District enrollment has been declining and is projected to continue to decrease. Cincinnati Public Schools and the Ohio School Facilities Commission have a responsibility to taxpayers to size the plan to meet enrollment needs. But because the construction is occuring in phases, the plan can be revised if enrollment trends change.
Q: How were construction priorities set for the plan?
A: The two main factors were a building’s condition and the crowded conditions in many current facilities. Another consideration was minimizing disruption to students during the construction process.
Q: Can the plan be changed during the next 10 years?
A: Yes. Before each building segment begins, the district reviews the building recommendations and looks at such things as enrollment data and changes in housing patterns within neighborhoods. If needed, the plan can be modified within the segments. Each of the four construction segments covers about 30 months.