Cedar Cliff set to open new $25M school facility

Cedar Cliff Local Schools’ new $25 million facility is scheduled to be dedicated at 6 p.m. today at a ceremony in the gymnasium, and will open to students and staff returning from winter break Wednesday.

The 112,000-square-foot facility, serving the district’s prekindergarten through 12th-grade students, replaces the less than 100,000-square-foot facility that was built in 1917 and augmented in 1932, 1953, 1963 and 1981.

Base construction costs for the new elementary, middle and high school were paid for by the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, formerly the Ohio School Facilities Commission, which picked up 52 percent of the tab. Local taxpayers paid 48 percent of the base costs and paid for any additional features not supported by the state.

“Those included 6,600 square feet of additional space, a geothermal heating and cooling system, standing seam metal roof on most of the building, and terrazzo flooring in the hallways,” said David Baits, who is in his 20th year as Cedar Cliff superintendent. “The new building makes more sense. It has much more usable space.”

Baits said local voters paid $13.8 million of the total costs via a combination 8.5-mill property tax levy and quarter percent income tax that passed in November 2009.

He said the district started working on this project about 15 years ago, and had two levies fail in 1999-2000 that would have paid for remodeling.

“You’ll never hear a superintendent say this, but I’m actually very glad the levies failed then,” Baits said. “With what we’re getting from the OSFC and the state paying 52 percent, I’m glad those two levies failed. We had to wait, but we would never have been able to do what we’ve done (with this project).”

The new facility increases energy-efficiency and affords Cedar Cliff students updated technology through Smart Boards and Smart Projectors, which are interactive teaching tools, and renovated science labs.

“This will allow us to do things we’ve not been able to do in the past, like offer Advanced Placement biology for the 2013-14 school year,” Baits said. “The new facility is just so much better in terms of capabilities for science.”

Cedar Cliff is the smallest Greene County public school district, with an enrollment of roughly 600.

It has been rated “Excellent” by the Ohio Department of Education for four straight years and tied the county’s largest public school district — Beavercreek City Schools — in performance index for 2011-12 at 104.4. Both schools trail county leader Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Local Schools, which had a PI of 107.2.

Students at the Cedarville district’s class of 2012 also averaged a 25 on the ACT out of a possible 36. That tied Bellbrook-Sugarcreek, Yellow Springs, Centerville and Mason high schools’ averages, and placed right behind Miami Valley leader Oakwood High School’s average of 26.

Cedar Cliff’s new facility provides added space for music and art programs, retooled classrooms and a college-size gymnasium, which can house two high school-size basketball courts and provide the needed room for health and physical education courses.

“We’re also keeping the 1963 gym,” Baits said, “which will help us get all of our high school and middle school practices in.”

Baits said the 1917, 1932 and 1953 portions of the former facility would be razed, while the 1963 and 1981 additions would be retained for the gym, offices and storage.

The new facility is at the same site of the former facility, but has a new address for fire and police purposes: 194 Walnut St. in Cedarville.

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