Olentangy schools will relocate its administrative offices to allow for the district’s need for more classroom space.
The Board of Education voted Thursday to enter into a lease agreement for a 39,259-square-foot office building located at 7840 Graphics Way Drive, in Lewis Center.
“Given our long-term space needs, this agreement is our best option to address our ongoing capacity challenges,” said Board President Roger Bartz in a statement. “It provides us with flexibility for the future while also addressing our existing needs as soon as the next school year.”
The district’s administrative offices are now housed within Shanahan Middle School. The relocation will, in turn, free up space within Shanahan Middle School to be converted into 12 preschool classrooms and two larger activity spaces.
Olentangy has 27 preschool classes currently spread across 10 of the districts’ 15 elementary school buildings. But the agreement will allow many of the preschool classes on the east side of the district to be relocated to the Shanahan Middle School site in time for the start of the 2017-2018 school year.
Board member Julie Feasel said in a social media post that work will start in April.
“Not much renovation is needed in that building since it was already set up for office space. The lease includes a lot of furniture that is still in the building that the district can use,” she said. “Then renovation at Shanahan will start once the above departments move out. Classrooms for preschool and flex space for the middle school will be created at Shanahan. This will also provide additional overflow space for the middle school cafeteria.”
Under the agreement, the district will pay $39,957.23 per month for the Graphics Way Drive building. The rate will increase to $41,999.56 at 32 months.
The agreement provides the district the option to purchase the building for no less than $4.5 million after the third year of the lease. The price is determined on the average of two appraisals at time of purchase. The property owner is obligated to sell if the average is above the $4.5 million.
Leasing the Graphics Way building would have less impact on the district’s finances when comparing the October 2016 five-year forecast with the preliminary version for May 2017.
Under the October forecast, Olentangy would have an unencumbered cash balance of $16,517,721 and could operate for 24 days without receiving additional revenues at the end of the fiscal year 2021. Under the preliminary May forecast, the district would have a of $33,621,689 and could operate for 48 days without receiving additional revenues at the end of the same fiscal year.
Olentangy Treasurer Emily Hatfield said the district spends about $21 million to $22 million in operating expenditures per month.
“It’s a positive message I’m excited to see there is growth in the [May] forecast,” she said.
Olentangy’s elementary schools were operating over recommended design capacities when preschools and specialized learning centers for students with disabilities were taken into account, according to a report from the district’s Facilities Committee.
In addition, strong demand for both programs is expected to continue and the state is reducing its guideline for the maximum number of students per preschool class from 16 to 12.
Other options considered were adding modular classrooms and building a standalone preschool building, but would only provide short-term solutions, create safety concerns and lack flexibility.
Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.