New high school, no bond levy, no problem for this suburban school district cincinnati.com /story/news/2017/08/21/new-high-school-no-bond-levy-no-problem-suburban-schooldistrict/576227001/ Sheila Vilvens
Amelia and Glen Este High Schools closed last spring; when students return to class Aug. 30, they will attend the new West Clermont High School and new West Clermont Middle School. Here are some facts about the new school: Wochit In a move that some are calling unique, one suburban school district is providing new schools for its students without levying new taxes. A collaborative agreement between the West Clermont School District and Union Township in Clermont County made possible the construction of a new high school. This deal then made it possible for the district to move forward on plans for two additional new schools and make renovations at two others. On Aug. 30 the new West Clermont High School welcomes students, grades nine12, who previously attended the district's Amelia and Glen Este high schools. The renovated Amelia campus welcomes district middle school students, grades six to eight.
The new sign in front of West Clermont Middle School is welcoming students. (Photo: Thanks to Libby Jones) The effort resulting in the construction and renovation projects started with the recognition that something was broken in the community, Union Township Trustee John McGraw said. The school district struggled to pass money issues, making new programs and schools unobtainable, he recalled. As a parent, the district’s financial challenges were an academic concern, he said. As a trustee, the district's grim financial picture hurt efforts to attract developers to Union Township. A fresh approach was needed. “I believe for the school board and township, we took some courageous action to do this and look at it in a unique way,” McGraw said. Working together, Superintendent Keith Kline and Union Township Administrator Ken Geis developed a unique path forward addressing student and district needs along with those of the township, he said. The township creatively leveraged the use of tax increment financing for development projects on the 100-acre Glen Este campus, which the district sold to the township for $1. The Glen Este site will be developed and a percentage of the TIF revenue will fund up to 65 percent of the new high school’s cost. The remaining cost of the $102 million project and cost of Amelia's renovation work is covered by district permanent improvement funds. The deal was brokered about three years ago. “What we’ve pulled off here is unheard of in the state of Ohio,” Kline said. Ohio Facilities Construction Commission spokesman Rick Savors called the result of the Union Township, West Clermont School District collaboration unique. As a result, they expedited the local partnership program to get construction done before the district was eligible for state money. 2/5
As work wraps up on the high school and middle school, things are ramping up for the next projects. The Ohio School Facilities Commission approved $45.3 million in state funding, monies credited to the district as the result of new construction. The money makes way for construction of two new elementary schools replacing Summerside and Willowville, and the complete renovation of Clough Pike Elementary. Like the high school and middle school projects, no new taxes will be needed. Mercy Health is a partner in the high school project. West Clermont HealthPlex opens Sept. 1 and is part of the new school. Currently accepting charter members with a special pre-opening offer, the HealthPlex offers students and the communities state-of-the-art fitness, and athletic club and activities. Mercy Health Physicians is also opening a doctor’s office in the building. “I think as we hit the reset button in West Clermont, it’s not just about new buildings and where kids go to school,” Kline said. “It’s about raising the bar academically. We’re focused intently on providing kids with tremendous opportunities and also helping them to achieve their full potential.”
The Glen Este campus will not house students this school year. The West Clermont High School Marching Band took advantage of the available field there for practice. (Photo: Thanks to Libby Jones) The partnership resulting in the new high school is garnering attention from across the state, McGraw said. Forest Hills School District and Anderson Township officials looked at a similar arrangement, but were unable to make it work. At both the new high school and middle school, students are benefiting from the merger, Kline said. The course offering is expanded with programs once offered in isolation at one school or the other now easily accessible to all students. "We really brought all that we could from both high schools," Kline said. "We had 10 clubs on each campus. And here we have 20. We really blended what was going on at Amelia and Glen Este into the same number of 3/5
opportunities and additional options for kids."
There's still plenty of work to button up ahead of the opening of the new West Clermont High School. (Photo: Thanks to Libby Jones)
Dedication The West Clermont School District dedicates the new high school Friday, Aug. 25. The scheduled events are open to the public and include: 1 p.m. - West Clermont High School dedication ceremony 1:30 p.m. - Building tours 4:30 p.m. - Community tailgate party 6:30 p.m. - West Clermont High School Stadium dedication ceremony 7 p.m. - Inaugural football game - West Clermont High School vs. Princeton
New high school fun facts The school is more than 370,000 square feet and has 75 acres. 2,500 student capacity - all of which can be seated in the gymnasium. 1,100 parking spaces. About 2,500 student desks, tables or learning stations. 4,500 seat stadium. 4/5
1,002 seat Performing Arts Center. Eight-lane competition pool. There are no blackboards. Instead, there are a combination of interactive white boards and standard white boards. A modern cafeteria space with food stations rather than the traditional food line with eight check-out stations. A bank and spirit shop located in the cafeteria space. A competition gym and auxiliary gym. Local businesses funded the new football scoreboard and through their sponsorships generate about $44,000 for the school . Two turf fields. Silver LEED certified with energy savings measures employed throughout.