Lobby Efforts Supporting Riverside Local School District
ISSUE 1 Frequently Asked Questions: BUILDING QUESTIONS
ISSUE 1 Frequently Asked Questions: BUILDING QUESTIONS
Q: What is Issue 1?
A:Issue 1 is a 5.37 mill bond levy on the May 3, 2022 ballot. If approved by voters, the funds raised will allow the Riverside Local School District to raise $147,725,000 to construct a new 6-12 campus. This campus would include a 6-8 Middle School and a 9-12 High School with shared common spaces. This proposed campus would be built on the current Riverside Campus property.
Q: What is included in the cost estimate?
A: The cost projection includes design work, site preparation, physical construction, furnishings and advanced technology throughout all spaces, a new auditorium, a wellness and weight training room, state of the art interior and exterior security, security glass throughout, relocation of baseball fields and practice fields, new board of education offices, a demolition and abatement of existing facilities currently on site.
The new complex would be right sized for the both the number of currently enrolled students and would include additional capacity for anticipated future growth.
Q: Why is a new high school needed?
A: Riverside High School is currently the second oldest high school in Lake County. When Fairport Schools completes their recently approved construction project, Riverside will be the oldest high school facility in the county.
Built in 1949, Riverside High School is 73 years old and has become increasingly difficult to adapt to current educational practices, teaching methods, and learning styles. Programming that is sought after by community members is becoming more and more difficult to provide as the spaces currently in place do not allow for the types of programs currently in demand by students and employers.
The school district, students, community residents and potential employers recognize that college is no longer the only pathway to life and career success - and that careers in manufacturing and other fields need properly trained and educated graduates that are job-ready upon high-school graduation.
Riverside Local Schools takes pride in providing an excellent array of courses that allow students to be ready for whatever path they choose upon graduation, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to provide credential ready students in non-college pathways because the district just does not have the space available to dedicate to these much needed programs. The district has limited space for manufacturing technology programs, and very little space for students who are interested in careers in the creative arts.
The district continues to devote time and energy revising and revamping course offerings at the middle-school and high school level. The current and immediate need is about properly designed spaces that will give students the most up-to-date career focused spaces that will allow them to be immediately successful in ever-changing and fast-moving career fields of their choice based on both market demands and personal passions.
Willoughby-Eastlake recently completed construction on 2 new high schools. Both Willoughby South High School and Eastlake North High School were replaced in full and opened to students in the fall of 2019.
Wickliffe City Schools is currently constructing a new campus on the site of their current Wickliffe High School.
Fairport Schools passed a bond levy to construct new facilities in November of 2021.
Q: What type of technology will be available at a new Riverside Campus that is not available now? Why is this important?
A: The current facility - at 73 years old - was not built for the technology needs of today's educational environment. Classrooms are currently equipped with technology that is pieced together and not integrated into the physical space. Hardwiring is physically not available in some areas. Internet service is not consistently adequate in all areas of the building - with some areas not able to be served at all due to the inability of installed network access points to reach those spaces.
A new facility will improve internet service and reception throughout the building and ensure that WiFi access is consistently available at all times. Hardwired and integrated equipment will ensure that all classrooms, common areas, and flexible spaces will have reliable equipment thoughtfully designed into the physical space.
In addition, the technology available in each space will be specifically chosen to meet the needs of the space. For example, a new auditorium would be outfitted with integrated lighting, sound and recording technology that would allow for professional production capability as well as allowing for the possibility of educational programming to be designed around the back-end technology that goes in to theatrical production.
Some other examples might include digital recording equipment outfitted in music rooms, green screen technology for multi-media courses, computer aided mechanical design equipment for career-tech spaces, maker spaces equipped with 3D printers and specialized software, and integrated computer labs that might be used for coding coursework, digital creative art and design, or a multitude of business courses in business software uses.
The opportunities to expand course offerings that utilize expanded technology are endless. If these were available campus wide, students in grades 6-12 would have expanded opportunities that simply don't exist in our facilities today.
Employers desire work-ready graduates. Colleges pursue tech-savvy students. The workforce of the future depends on students who can navigate the technology of both today AND tomorrow.
Q: What safety and security enhancements will be made in a new Riverside Campus?
A: The new elementary schools constructed in Phase 1 include many of the most sophisticated and effective safety features that were available at the time of construction. Many of those features go relatively unnoticed by design. The school district obviously does not publicize the specifics of security design which is understandable.
Some of the important features that increase cost of construction significantly include:
- First floor exterior and interior level 3 ballistic glass
- Secure entrance areas and vestibules for student and visitor access
- Camera and video surveillance
- Key-coded access with integrated software that allows an administrator to monitor entry and exit by anyone with an access card
- Central office exterior windows that allow the office staff to have clear sight of approaching visitors
- Vestibule transaction windows for business activity allowing some visitors to take care of their needs without even having to enter the physical school building
- Enhanced roadway access including turning lanes and dedicated bus driveways if necessary
- Radio and response equipment with direct access to safety services
All of these features would be included in the construction of a new 6-12 campus if Issue 1 is successful. These are important features that the community has indicated are desirable.
Q: How will a new 6-12 complex benefit the staff and employees?
A: Included in the design will be dedicated space for staff to both work and learn independently and collaboratively. Adequate space for professional development is currently unavailable and meeting space is nearly non-existent. Providing space for professional development benefits both staff and students as instructional design and teaching methods can be constantly improved upon.
Dedicated offices for IEP meetings, parent conferences and staff collaboration will enhance the outcomes of students and staff alike. Offices and spaces for guidance, counseling services and other services that is currently lacking will be expanded.
Because central administrative and board of education space is currently located at Riverside High School, these spaces will also be included and replaced during the construction process. With many of the central management team having offices scattered throughout the district because of current space constraints, truly centralizing administrative functions will have a profound positive impact on the overall functionality of central district-wide services.
State of the art mechanical rooms and food service areas will be designed throughout which will provide for cost efficient operation of internal systems. Because of a campus setting, these systems will be able to be managed from one location instead of being duplicative.
With a campus setting that includes both middle-school and high school at the same location, it is anticipated that the expansion of multi-grade level collaboration should provide for a more seamless transition from middle school to high school for students. Enhanced availability for collaboration between grade-level and subject matter educators is paramount to increased proficiency and improved educational outcomes for students.
Currently it is difficult for staff to collaborate between grade levels due to locational constraints.
Q: Why not just renovate the existing Riverside Campus?
A: In both 2008 and 2013 the Ohio Facility Construction Commission rated the entire Riverside Campus and ranked the categories as follows:
- Plant Maintainability - POOR
- Safety and Security - POOR
- Educational Adequacy - POOR
- Environmental Functionality - POOR
- Structural and Mechanical - BORDERLINE
- Site Location - SATISFACTORY
- Renovation does NOT include moving walls
- Renovation does NOT add space for additional educational programming and opportunities
- Renovation does NOT address the need for additional square footage that is needed to accommodate anticipated future growth
- Renovation does NOT address increased access to technology and current connectivity issues
- Renovation does NOT address the shortcomings in safety and security
- Renovation does NOT address the addition of spaces designed specifically for creative arts and career tech
- Renovation does NOT address the need for additional staff collaboration and meeting space
- Renovation does NOT address the continued community desire to have a true middle school with grades 6-8 in a dedicated facility
- Renovation would NOT allow the district to reconfigure the grade-banding within the buildings - leaving the 8th grade where it is currently at the HS Campus
- Renovation would NOT allow the district to recognize the operational efficiencies that come with shared spaces such as food-service and maintenance
Renovation would only be applied to the current high school, leaving the district with Phase 3 of the facility plan unable to be completed. Without the additional space that new construction would allow for grades 6-8 to move to their own dedicated space at the high school campus, LaMuth Middle School would remain a middle school - meaning it would not be able to be repurposed for an elementary school as intended in Phase 3.
This would require 8th grade students to continue attending the current 8-12 building as they do now into the indefinite future. The community has repeatedly indicated their desire to have the 8th grade housed independently of grades 9-12.
Issue 1 would address all these needs.
Q: How will ALL students in the district benefit from the passage of Phase 2
A: While students may attend different elementary schools, eventually all students attend the middle school and high school campus. Phase 2 would also pave the way for Phase 3 - which upon completion would ensure that all elementary students have the same or similar leaning experiences in facilities designed with age-appropriate spaces.
While the district and the original facility committee charged with developing the long range plan had the desire to address all students equally at the same time, the overall magnitude of all needs made this approach cost prohibitive.
The 3-phase approach allowed the district to prioritize the projects based on the immediate needs of the aging facilities. The committee based their plan recommendation on the age and disrepair of facilities.
The district and the committee were well aware that the plan would take many years to see to completion.
The sooner Phase 2 is completed, the sooner entire plan and vision can be realized.
Q: If Issue 1 passes, what will happen to the current Riverside Campus building?
A: The current Riverside Campus would remain open throughout the construction project. Once completed, the current school buildings would be abated and demolished. Parking lots would be reconfigured and rebuilt as part of the project. It is likely that baseball fields would need to be relocated on site.
Q: Will the stadium and/or field house be demolished to make room for new construction?
A: There are no plans to demolish the stadium or the Field House as the district has plenty of land available for new construction. The Field House is a desirable asset and would still be used as an auxiliary gym. The stadium and the turf are also in excellent condition and would remain in place. Plan design would incorporate the Field House and stadium into the new site plan without alteration.
Q: What due diligence has the district already done to ensure a new campus can physically be built on the current high school site?
A: In 2021, the district hired outside professionals to conduct the following assessments in anticipation of future construction projects:
- An initial geotechnical exploration services study which included all necessary soil borings throughout the site
- An environmental site assessment
- A topographical survey
- Wetlands delineation study
The study results indicated that no significant issues or concerns that would prevent construction projects on the current property.
If Phase 2 passes in May, the pre-completion of these studies would allow for design and placement work to begin sooner.
If Phase 2 fails in May, the results of these independent reports are still valuable to the district, as any future use of available property at the campus would require this information.
Q: Is there room for growth in the new Riverside Campus in case enrollment increases?
A: Current enrollment for the 2021-22 school year is as follows:
- Riverside Jr. / Sr. High School - 1,793 students enrolled
- LaMuth Middle School - 613 students enrolled
- Total - 2,406 students enrolled
The OFCC suggested capacity for the combined actual square footage in place is 2,021 students, meaning that by OFCC modern standards, the facilities are already over-crowded.
The Phase 2 plan would be designed with a 2,600 student enrollment target.
Q: How much additional space dedicated to education comes with the passage of Issue 1?
A: With the passage of Issue 1 on May 3, 2022 - Riverside Local School District will be replacing their current Grade 8-12 building with a brand new 9-12 building that will include an additional 27,000 square feet of space over and above the current size.
While the current building houses 5 grade levels and almost 1,800 students - the new High School is estimated to have a larger space footprint which will accommodate approximately 1,650 students.
This translates to more learning space per student. That additional learning space will be used to offer new programs, allow for more collaboration between students and teachers, and will accommodate many different learning and teaching styles.
IN ADDITION to the net gain of square footage in the high school portion of the plan, the district will also gain a BRAND NEW MIDDLE SCHOOL which will add over 126,000 square feet of learning space to the overall district footprint. This dedicated and separate space will accommodate over 960 students.
Both the district and the community have long agreed that having a grade-banded middle school that can incorporate the 8th grade in addition to the current 6th and 7th grades as now is beneficial to student readiness for high school coursework.
This current middle-school model uses a team approach to the classroom experience and this will likely continue with the transition to a new facility specifically designed for the team approach.
Please see the slide below (taken from the district community presentation material located on the district website) that breaks down the cost and size of Issue 1 in a different way that may be helpful. Because the current middle school would be transitioned to an elementary school in Phase 3, the new middle school portion of the Issue 1/Phase 2 project is considered new square footage for the district.
Adding that to the additional space planned for the high school, the project will add over 153,000 of educational space for district students to learn and grow and become globally competitive in expanding job markets.
The additional spaces offered - seen at the bottom section of the slide - adds complementary space that either replaces or adds to what the district currently offers in those areas.
Q: How will a combined campus be more efficient than what we currently have?
A: As the number of building sites in the district continues to be reduced, operational efficiency continues to improve.
Phase 1 of the district's Long-Term Facility Plan saw the building footprint reduced from 6 elementary schools to 4. Phase 2 of the plan calls for no physical space reduction but it does pave the way to Phase 3 - which would allow for the renovation of LaMuth Middle School and it's eventual repurpose as an elementary School. Phase 3 of the facility plan would see the district's building footprint to be reduced by at least 1 and possibly 2 more decommissioned elementary buildings depending on district growth and space needs at that time.
- The final footprint would include:
- 2 new elementary schools
- 1 renovated middle school repurposed and transformed into a like-new elementary school
- 1 newly constructed middle school and a newly constructed high school at the same site location
- OLD RIVERSIDE (prior to Phase 1) = 8 site locaitons
- NEW RIVERSIDE (after the conclusion of Phase 3) = 4 site locations (possibly 5 if Buckeye remains open for additional needs)
Less site locations = less site maintenance (parking maintenance, landscaping, snowplowing etc)
Less site locations = reduction in duplicative services (food service inspections, HVAC control services, elevator maintenance contracts, fire safety inspections etc)
Some internal services and operational costs may be reduced but not one for one. For example, utility costs may decrease due to the required utilization of LEAD construction standards - including more efficient windows, more efficient heating and cooling systems and lighting systems. But some other items may offset those efficiencies - such as the addition of air-conditioning.
These can be deemed to be cost-neutral, while still gaining more for the same amount of dollars spent. (such as: buildings would now have AC with no additional utility cost).
In terms of space and design, the Phase 2 plan calls for centralized services - such as food prep areas. This means that only 1 commercial grade kitchen would need to be built instead of 2.
- The number of staff needed to produce the same number of meals may or may not be decreased, as both the high school and the middle school would have segregated cafeteria spaces while utilizing the same food prep and kitchen space.
Q: If Issue 1 passes, when would the new campus be open for students?
A: If Issue 1 passes, it is expected that the planning and construction process would take approximately three to four years. If there are no significant setbacks or complications, the new campus is estimated to be open to students by August of 2026.
Because there will be no displacement of students during the construction project, if unanticipated delays occur there would be no immediate disruption to instruction and students would remain in their current locations until the project was completed.