The decisions phase began in January 2017 and ended in May 2017. At the beginning of this phase, district Treasurer/CFO Andrew Geistfeld formed the Financial Advisory Board (FAB), a team of community volunteers with significant experience in business management and the financing and management of facilities improvement projects. The FAB was tasked with providing initial findings on the funding, phasing and scope of the master plan, the need for an operating levy and several other additional needs identified during the master planning process.
The Financial Advisory Board issued a report with its initial draft findings in March 2017 (Financial Advisory Board Initial Findings Report), and district administration then began a weeks-long process to gather feedback on these findings from as many residents as possible so that the Financial Advisory Board could come back together in late April 2017 to finalize its findings.
In all, approximately 2,400 community members shared their thoughts through a fifth community engagement session, a building team survey, a community-wide online survey, a Facilities Task Force online survey and a professional community phone survey.
The Financial Advisory Board reconvened to review the community feedback and refine its initial findings. The team’s final report was presented to the Board of Education on May 9, 2017 (Financial Advisory Board Final Findings Report). At the same meeting, Superintendent Paul Imhoff and Treasurer/CFO Andrew Geistfeld made recommendations to the Board of Education regarding final updates to the master plan and the November 2017 ballot issue.
The Board of Education voted unanimously at that meeting to approve the final updates to the master plan (Facilities Master Plan Final Report). Those updates include:
- Implementing the master plan in two phases, with the first phase consisting of rebuilding the high school and renovating or rebuilding the five elementary schools.
- Rebuilding Upper Arlington High School facing Zollinger Road based upon the principles of easier access for community members and first responders, a more efficient layout of the site and a logical location for a future addition, if needed.
- Addressing drainage issues and installing a turf field and baseball/softball diamonds on district-owned land behind Tremont Elementary School that is adjacent to Northam Park and is utilized by many high school teams for practice and competition.
- Raising at least $5 million in private donations — the largest private fundraising effort in the district’s history — to offset the cost of the master plan to homeowners.
- Identifying $23 million in scope reductions for the first phase of the master plan during a design phase, which would begin immediately following the passage of a combined bond issue and operating levy and involve any and all community members who are interested in participating.
- Looking into the possibility of selling the district’s central offices, currently at 1950 North Mallway Drive, and using those funds toward relocation, potentially to the high school.
Based on the feedback from the community, Treasurer/CFO Andrew Geistfeld recommended that the Board of Education pursue a $230 million bond issue combined with a 3.75-mill operating levy for the November 7, 2017, ballot. The bond issue, at an additional 5.17 mills of debt service, would fund the first phase of the master plan. The 3.75-mill operating levy would allow the district to continue offering the high-quality academic programs our community expects for its students. Combined, these issues would add approximately $312 a year in property taxes per $100,000 of home valuation as determined by the Franklin County auditor.
During the June 6 meeting, the Board of Education took the first of two votes required to place the combined bond issue and operating levy on the November 7, 2017, ballot. During June 28 meeting, the Board of Education took the second vote to place the issue on the ballot.