What is the purpose of the Facility Master Planning Process [FMP]?
- The primary purpose of this planning process is to ensure that Athens City Schools facilities have the ability to meet the district’s educational needs today and in the future. This will involve facilities adaptable enough to accommodate a variety of educational approaches and strategies.
- The facility planning process is a systematic approach for making educational and facility decisions that will have a long-term impact for Athens Schools.
Why is a Facility Master Planning process being done?
- In order to protect our residents’ investment in our schools, we analyze the way we do business to ensure we deliver on the quality and efficiency our community expects, including our school buildings.
- Athens Schools student demographics change over time and these changes in student needs, (such as location, technological demands, etc.) impact the requirements we have of our school facilities.
- The district engaged construction and school facilities experts to analyze the efficiency of our school buildings – both from a financial and educational standpoint. The research revealed that our buildings, ranging in age from 47 to 95 years old, are in need of some minor maintenance, while others could use extensive renovation or even replacement.
- Outside of necessary improvements to facilities in the interest of student and staff health, there are various potential added benefits to programming and overall educational quality. The US Department of Education has provided research regarding the benefits of a quality learning environment on students which include improved learning outcomes, increased attendance levels, attraction and retention of teachers, and happier and healthier teachers.
How long will the Facility Master Planning process take?
- The analysis, community engagement and planning portion of the FMP is scheduled with milestone dates beginning April 2018 and ending October 2018. However, the Facility Master Plan is a document that will evolve over time with changes in demographics and other factors that impact facilities.
- In addition, the Athens City School Board has hosted public forums and participated in public joint city council/school board quarterly meetings for the past two years. These meetings have hosted conversations on similar topics discussed in this facility master planning process, and have contributed to the current process.
How will facility Options be explored and developed?
- Options will be explored and developed by reviewing and analyzing
- *Historical and projected district educational and facility information
- *Building condition information
- *Overlaying Educational Framework on individual schools
- *Soliciting input from District Level and community members
Will attendance boundaries change?
- It is possible that boundaries may change. However, until all information has been vetted through the Options exploration phase, it is uncertain what the best course of action will be for each facility.
How will any new buildings or building improvements be funded? Are my taxes going to increase?
- The funding mechanisms for these types of projects would likely require a general obligation bond. Sources to repay this bond may be
- *Property Tax Revenue
- *Sales Tax Revenue
- *Revue realized by operational cost savings.
- *General Fund
- The amount and extent of these resources used will be determined by decision makers. The final solution will likely be a combination of sources.
What happens if we do nothing?
- Many of the facilities are in poor physical condition and are in need of repair. If no action is taken, some building systems will fail and require unpredicted emergency repairs. This may result in lost instructional time and immediate raising of funds.
- The schools will continue to operate inefficiently with operational expenditures increasing.
- The following is a list of the most pressing and essential deficiencies of Athens buildings.
When is the soonest any of these options could be implemented?
- Once funding is secured, these types of construction or renovation projections take between 24 and 36 months. It is unlikely that any new or renovation facilities would be ready before the 2020-21 school year.
How will consolidating into fewer facilities reduce operational expenses if we are still going to have the same number of students?
- The operational savings will likely be in the form and administration reduction. With fewer buildings to administer, there will be a need for fewer principals and other support staff. The number of teachers would be anticipated to stay at current levels because the number of students will remain constant.
- The cost savings may be realized immediately, because the reduction in administration may be phased in over a few years as the workforce retires.
- There will likely also be utility costs savings due to increased efficiency in modern buildings.
If there are schools that are no longer needed at the end of a building program, what will happen to them?
- There are a variety of uses for a retired school facility, examples include: reusing the facility for another city program, selling the facility, or demolishing the facility and using the site as park space. A dedicated process is required to determine final site use, but neither the city or the school system want to see old facilities boarded up and left vacant.
Regarding Option 1: What would the traffic impacts be if all students are located at the City Park/Athens Middle site?
- A traffic study was conducted by the firm CDM Smith to address this question. It found that while there would be new challenges in terms of vehicle congestion, there are options on how best to mitigate this. Recommended mitigation techniques include:
- *The construction of various turning lanes
- *Re-striping to implement turn lanes where the road is wide enough
- *The removal on-street parking and curbs to provide three-lane sections of road.
- While the traffic study provides various options on how to execute these actions, the anticipated overall cost is roughly $1 million.
Can the community do a fundraiser for improvements?
- Our community can choose to do fundraisers and designate that money as it chooses. For example, a community fundraiser could be implemented to raise money to repair/replace the lighting/sound board at ACMS which has a cost of over $200,000.
If a school were to have several floors, where would the younger students be located?
- State law requires that grades 1 and lower be on the ground floor of a school building. The Athens City Schools two-story school concept had grades PK, K, and 1st on the ground floor and grades 2-5 on the top floor.