Northeastern local schools seeks public input on future of facilities

District is weighing option of placing levy on November 2017 ballot.

Northeastern local school leaders will consider putting a bond issue on the ballot in 2017 to rebuild or renovate buildings, but want the community to agree on plans first.

A committee of about 75 parents and other community members has been created to explore the district’s options, Northeastern Local Schools Superintendent Dr. John Kronour said, including consolidating one or more schools.

“We have a difficult time doing things that we’d like to do educationally,” Kronour said of the district’s current facilities.

The earliest a bond issue could go to the voters, he said, would be November of 2017.

Aging Facilities

There are five facilities in the Northeastern Local School District: Kenton Ridge High School, Northeastern High School, Northridge Middle and Elementary School, South Vienna Middle and Elementary School and Rolling Hills Elementary School.

Most of the district’s buildings were built in the 60’s and 70’s, Kronour said, and aren’t equipped for modern technology. Many schools don’t have enough outlets to plug in computers and laptops, he said and some aren’t air conditioned.

Building tours of the district’s facilities were offered this week to show the community the problems it faces, he said.

“The conditions of our facilities are something I wanted our community, our parents to see if they haven’t been in the buildings,” he said.

One of those schools, Kenton Ridge High, can’t keep up with other local school districts when it comes to technology, according to its principal John Hill.

“I think we can do more,” Hill said. “We want to provide an education that is able to make students competitive in their lives later on.”

The school district will spend more than $300,000 in repairs to roofs, parking lots, and other needs over the summer, Kronour said. But the repairs will only patch up problems that will eventually return, he said.

Weighing the options

The district has the opportunity to get 40 percent of the cost of construction of new educational buildings covered by the Ohio School Facilities Commission, Kronour said.

But the district wants the community to agree on a plan before beginning a campaign for a bond issue.

Several options are on the table, he said, including renovating the existing buildings, constructing five new facilities and consolidating into only three new facilities.

Some choices for consolidation include joining the high schools into one, and creating two kindergarten through 8th grade schools.

“I believe building new is more economically smart than trying to patch,” he said. The life of a new building would be longer than a renovated one, he said, and price tags would be similar.

The cost of rebuilding all five facilities would be about $118 million, according to documents Kronour presented at the last committee meeting. The cost would be less if the district decides not to rebuild all five.

Many residents of the district think rebuilding is necessary.

“I like this area and I’d like to stay but I want my kids to go to a good school,” Jessica Deel said.

Deel’s children attend Northridge, she said. “There’s no air conditioning and I know how bad it gets in there,” she said.

She wouldn’t be opposed to consolidation if it would save the school district money, she said.

“I guess it’s something we have to think about,” she said.

But resident Robert Hammett wants to know more before deciding if he would back a bond issue.

There’s too many options, Hammett said, and its unknown how much it would cost the individual.

The district will hold a public meeting to discuss its options on June 28 at 5:30 p.m. in the media center at Northeastern High School.

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