The Warpath

MHS Facility Project: What to Expect in the Upcoming Years


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BY GRACIE LYONS, STEPHANIE RENNER, ASHLEY GRIMMER, AND ABBY DODSON

You barely beat the 7:45 tardy bell.  Although you left your house with plenty of time, you were stuck in a line of traffic backed up along Warrior Way.

You enter your first bell room, and meet for a group project. Your group is cramped in the corner of a windowless room, with nothing to inspire you but dull posters along plain, white walls. Then, it’s down to science for second bell, where the outdated facility leaves you reading about complex experiments instead of hands-on learning.

And this isn’t even the start of some of the problems many Mariemont High School students face:

Many argue that where we learn impacts the way we learn, and the quality of our education.

According to a study at Penn State, “With respect to students, school facilities affect health, behavior, engagement, learning, and growth in achievement.”

And, according to FacilitiesNet’s researcher Clif Greim, outdated architecture, health and safety concerns, and inefficient systems plague older buildings.

How are Mariemont faculty and community members addressing these concerns and adjusting the facilities to continue to educate the “scholars of today and leaders of tomorrow?”

Original construction for Mariemont High School began in 1970, making the building nearly 50 years old. According to the Superintendent’s Report to the Board of Education on December 11, 2017, the main limitations with the building include classroom size, lack of collaboration spaces, security concerns, aging infrastructure, and a range of other deficiencies.

The new science rooms will tentatively be on the upper level and include upgrades conducive to learning, such as bigger classrooms, collaborative spaces, and air flow. (PHOTO BY MARIEMONT SCHOOLS)

Community committees and the Board of Education reveal increasingly solidified plans for the direction of the Mariemont High School Facilities Project as the district approaches the end of the 2017-18 school year. The Facilities Project, as the district calls it, refers to the district’s assessment of and solutions for the needs of Mariemont High School Facilities.

The new school building will eliminate the need for the AP students having to sign out before driving to class. (PHOTO BY LYONS)

For the past 4-5 years, students are having to drive to neighboring school districts to take AP Chemistry. Mariemont High School chemistry teacher, Mr. Kuhn, shared that the current science labs have little to no air flow, restricting the opportunity for students to take AP Chemistry at the high school.

New labs included in the proposal will not only allow for more students to take the course, but also will eliminate the risk of students having to drive to other schools. They will also provide opportunities for environmental science classes, more outlets around the room, and more lab space.

 

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The plans that were unveiled at the April 2018 Board of Education meeting have been circulating the community for consideration and feedback.

Lance Hollander, the Director of Administrative services, says the April 9th, 2018 proposal is just a proposal: it isn’t final. The Board of Education will take their first vote on this ballot issue at their May 14th meeting to finalize plans and move forward with a final proposal for voters: a levy.

It will likely appear for Mariemont voters on the November 2018 ballot.

Hollander also answered a few more questions for Warpath:

Since there is still a ways to go, the district continues to make the process of updating the high school a collaborative and inclusive experience.

“We have been very transparent,” says Hollander, about the Board of Education during the proposal process, “we have published everything on the website.

What financial issues are involved?

The idea of a renovated or reconstructed high school is not new. In fact, in an 2008 Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) report, “$15,000,000 in repairs and/or upgrades recommended for the high school facility, including 13 areas that “needed replaced” were identified. But this was simply the bare minimum.

The $43 million required for the project will go towards many of the solutions listed above. (PHOTO BY MARIEMONT SCHOOLS)

The number in OSFC’s report wasn’t taken lightly. Today, the estimated cost of the proposed renovation is $43 to $53 million, and includes a more sustainable building for the future of Mariemont. This means, depending on the value of their property, the cost for homeowners and residents in the district ranges from an additional $204 to $2,016 annually. 

The major finance issue at hand here, however, is that the district needs to maintain the education of their students as well as rebuild a school. This is why there were two levy’s proposed by the Finance Committee: an operating levy and a permanent fix levy. The operating levy helps maintain quality education and the fix levy will contribute to the rebuilding of the school.

What are some challenges students face now, in an outdated building?

It’s not just the OSFC that recommends RECOMMENDING change. Mariemont students also shared the struggles at the high school in a video series called Understanding the Need.

Senior Molly Mysogland, member of the Student Curriculum Committee, is excited for future possibilities regarding the building project.

Mysogland is also involved in various arts at MHS, and was excited about the renovation plans for musical and visual arts, specifically “the the discussion of separate band, chorus and orchestra classrooms and storage spaces.” (PHOTO BY MARIEMONT SCHOOLS)

“My favorite parts include windows and a huge atrium style collaborative space in the middle of the academic wing of the building. I think the layout is very considerate to the students and teachers, who will no longer have to walk incredibly far in between classes,” she said.

About a year ago, in April 2017, Will Kemper, a member of the Warpath staff, published an article about the uncertainty of the plans at that time.

Now a sophomore, Ava Dorsten said in Kemper’s article last year, “I hate how confusing the hallways are and how there are no windows. I’m excited to see what the new building will feature.”

Dorsten was enthusiastic after viewing the new proposal. She said that she liked the new design because the view from the outside and inside will both be updated. “I feel like everything will seem newer and feel better. I think everyone feels better [about school and learning] when they’re in a nicer place,” she said.

With a new tangible look at the potential for the high school, the future of the facilities is closer than ever to a facelift. Since staff, students, parents, residents, and administrators all have a voice in the way that the project goes, the collaboration is sure to produce a building that lasts in this district.

One thing remains for certain: Mariemont High School will continue to educate the scholars of today and the leaders of tomorrow, as it has since its doors first opened. It just might as well be in a building for the future.

 

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MHS Facility Project: What to Expect in the Upcoming Years