Dear West Clermont Parent
Last night, our school board voted to move forward with a project that will allow our district to build a single, much-needed new high school and at zero additional cost to school district residents.
The single new high school will replace the district’s current Amelia and Glen Este high schools and come equipped with modern science, engineering and chemistry labs and include modern technology and security features. That’s just the start.
An up-to-date high school is important to our West Clermont students and the funding for this project comes at just the right time. For more than 10 years, officials in the West Clermont Local Schools have known that the district’s two high schools – Amelia and Glen Este – are in need of renovation and/or replacement – but the funds haven’t existed in order to make it happen. As we begin construction on the new West Clermont High School, we will be renovating the current Amelia High School/Middle School campus to create the new site for the district’s middle school students.
The entire project will not cost our residents any additional dollars. In fact, Union Township has arranged it so that the district will receive significant tax funding under a Tax Incentive Financing agreement (TIF) for the land. That funding will fund most of the project – up to approximately 65% percent of the total cost, in fact.
The balance of the project will come from the district’s permanent improvement fund – a fund that can only be used for building projects.
As we transition to one new high school in 2017, and begin consolidation, we anticipate that we can make any adjustments to staffing through retirements and resignations.
Below, find a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document on this project for your reference. You can be certain that as we move toward one high school that we will involve alumni, students and many others to be a part of the planning process.
In addition, as we work through this project we will continue to communicate with you. Thank you for your support of our students and schools.
Dr. Keith Kline
West Clermont Local School District
Facilities Plan FAQ Sheet
Why a new high school?
Our district has a very unique opportunity to build a new high school at no additional cost to taxpayers. That will mean that all students –regardless of where they live – will have access to the same quality of education and academic opportunities.
How can it cost zero dollars?
Due to two sources:
• First, upwards of 65% of the project will be funded by an agreement brokered by Union Township for the benefit of our schools. The agreement, called a TIF (Tax Incremental Financing) will provide the bulk of the funding and will occur through the sale and development of the Glen Este High School/Middle School property.
• Second, the rest of the project will be funded with the district’s remaining permanent improvement funds. These funds can only be used for capital or new building projects, not day-to-day operations.
The need for a new high school is very real. In fact, throughout the past ten years, our district has researched and studied the need for a new high school. We just never had the building funds to make it happen. Now, we do. In fact, this was a use-it or lose-it opportunity for our schools. If we did not accept this funding from the township at this time, we would have lost at least $65 million to upgrade our facilities.
What do we get with a new high school?
A new high school will provide:
o Access to modern science, engineering and chemistry labs needed to prepare students for college or the workforce;
o Additional academic opportunities, computer systems, science labs and technology;
o Ability for all students to access programming regardless of where they live (International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement, Career-based programming)
o Additional safety and security measures.
Will teachers or other staff lose their jobs?
Staffing is always determined by the number of students we have in a building. By moving to a single high school, we will have the opportunity to relook at efficiencies. Any reductions in personnel will be managed through retirements or resignations.
Why can’t we use these funds to reinstate what we lost through years of cuts?
It’s illegal. Aside from the TIF dollars, the district is using permanent improvement funds for the balance of the project. These funds can only be used for specific purposes such as school renovations and construction.
The district’s other fund, the operating fund, pays for the day-to-day operations of a school system. It includes teachers, transportation, utilities supplies, programs and services.
Why can’t we just renovate the existing high schools?
It’s simple: The cost to do so comes close to the cost to build new and we still would not have facilities that would support teaching and learning into the future. Given the partnership opportunity with Union Township, we can build a new, modern facility for roughly what it would take to completely renovate Amelia and Glen Este for continued use as high schools. And, in the end, we still would not have a long term solution for the next 50 years.
Do we really need this new high school? Says who?
Yes and we have needed it for more than 10 years now. In fact, ten years ago the state’s Ohio School Facilities Commission and a community committee of residents agreed that the two high schools were in need of replacement. Just recently, the OSFC reviewed all of West Clermont’s buildings again and have recommended demolition of part of Glen Este’s campus as well as significant renovations to other schools. The barrier in the past has been that funds simply were not available. Now, through the TIF and permanent improvement funds, they are and at no additional cost to taxpayers.
Surely students have what they need right now, don’t they?
No. We have great teaching and learning going on but the infrastructure—what’s behind the walls — is now getting in the way of learning. Technology is limited due to the infrastructure of our buildings, many current spaces were originally built for vocational education and no longer meet the needs of our kids, failing intercom systems, inadequate restroom facilities and overall air quality are issues that get in the way of high quality teaching and learning.
The age of our school buildings is now keeping our students from accessing educational opportunities that students in other high schools around us have and which are in demand by higher education and the workforce. Antiquated science labs and limitedcapability for technology are significant problems that are holding our students and staff back.
Won’t one high school be too big? Won’t we have bigger class sizes?
No. In fact, with students in one high school, we will be able to better balance class sizes while offering our students a wider range of academic opportunities.
In addition, consolidation provides more educational and extracurricular opportunities for students, not fewer. We know that having students who are actively engaged in their school makes a huge impact on their success. By moving to one high school, we will be able to support teams that we currently struggle to fill. We will also be able to expand the number of teams in a sport as well as add sports that we currently do not have. Additionally, we will be able to provide more clubs and activities for students than our current structure can support.
When will the high school open?
If all goes as planned, we hope to open the new West Clermont High School for the 2017-18 school year. The building design and construction process is two and one-half years, provided weather cooperates. Until that time, the two high schools and two middle schools will remain open.
Where will the new high school be located?
It will be centrally located at the corner of Clough Pike and Bach-Buxton Road.
What about the middle school students?
While the new high school is being built, renovations on Amelia High/Middle will begin – that will become the new West Clermont Middle School when the move takes place. The Ohio School Facilities Commission study revealed the Amelia Campus can be upgraded to meet the needs of middle school students. We expect those renovations to be complete for the start of the 2017-18 school year.
What happens with the old high schools and land?
As part of the TIF Agreement, the land Glen Este High School and Middle School sits on now will become a mixed-use space including residential and commercial properties. The Amelia Campus will be renovated to become the new West Clermont Middle School.
What will the school colors and mascot be for the new school?
We will seek input from students, parents, staff and the community to determine these important identity components for the new high school. We hope that some part of the two current high schools will be recognized as a nod to the past.
What about alumni? How will we recognize them going forward?
We are proud of our graduates and our alumni remain an important part of our schools. Going forward, we will establish an alumni committee to discuss how we can hold on to the best traditions from both Amelia and Glen Este. Prior to any demolition we will host events at the school so that residents may bid a final farewell.
I thought replacing elementary buildings was next on the list? What about those facilities?
o Construction of a new high school without asking taxpayers for additional funding is a once in a lifetime opportunity that the district cannot afford to turn down. Because of the timing of this opportunity, reconfiguring our secondary schools has moved up on the priority list.
o The new high school and renovated middle school are Phase I of a 10 year Facilities Plan being developed by the Board of Education. By partnering with local governmental agencies and the Ohio School Facilities Commission, West Clermont will not only construct and upgrade secondary facilities but, in Phase II, have the opportunity to do the same at the elementary level over the next decade. This plan, once approved, will provide quality facilities for our students well into the foreseeable future at no additional cost to the taxpayers.