Building Our Future - Phase II

In the summer of 2023, Oberlin City Schools began revisiting their facility master plan to examine how to address the district's next set of facility challenges. They met with ThenDesign Architecture (TDA) and Hammond Construction to explore Phase 2 of these plans, which includes exploring construction costs, site impacts, state funding, and preliminary layouts for grades 6-12. 

History of the Master Plan 

Oberlin City Schools first developed a master plan in 2018 outlining their priority needs for replacing all the aging infrastructure for the K-12 grade levels in the district. After thorough assessments of all their school facilities, planning, and engagement with community members, teachers, and district staff, a plan was set. 

The first phase of this plan included replacing the elementary school, which addressed grades PK-5. 

This was completed in 2021 with the opening of Oberlin's new PK-5 Elementary School. This new facility replaced two existing, oversized elementary schools and provided a fresh, bright, and technologically advanced school for the district's youngest learners. This ecologically friendly school was built with an attached solar array that provides 80% of the school’s energy costs and engages students through an attached energy dashboard. Along with improving the educational environment, the building itself became a learning tool.

Phase 2 was exploring how to address grades 6-12: Langston Middle School and Oberlin High School.

Overview of the Process

During the summer of 2023, a team from the district administration, select board members, and design and construction professionals met to examine various scenarios for Phase 2 of Oberlin’s Facilities Master Plan. This included comparing the costs and phasing of building either a new 6-12 school, a 6-8 school with the option of adding future grades, or just a new 9-12 school. A primary goal of these plans was to ensure that students could stay in their existing buildings while the new schools were constructed. Additionally, state funding sources were explored, which included enrolling in the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission's (OFCC) Expedited Local Partnership Program (ELPP). Utilizing this program ensured that the district would get a future credit from the state if they designed and built the school using state guidelines. 

The team met bi-weekly, conducting "site fit tests" and performing construction estimations to ensure the plan's viability. The group also explored how the current Oberlin Campus could support a new building in terms of traffic circulation, stormwater management, and future athletic field needs. Finally, they examined different ways to phase construction if a smaller portion was built first.

Ultimately, after exploring the district’s bonding cap, square footage needs, and the amenities necessary for the new school, the district felt the best financial and educational plan was to focus on building a 6-8 school now that could be designed for expansion in the years ahead.

Community engagement occurred during the process through Board of Education meetings and an open community session where attendees came to ask questions about the plan and methodology. 

The Plan

An overarching goal of the plan was to identify a way to satisfy the short and long-term needs of the district while also being the most cost-effective and attainable solution.

With the support of TDA and Hammond Construction, the district decided that constructing a new 55,000 sf 6-8 middle school while making site improvements was the best solution for the district. Then, when the additional state credit from the OFCC becomes available, the district can consider using that to finish constructing the 9-12 portion of the building, making it a 6-12 school. 

Initial schematics for the new building demonstrate how the existing school can remain in operation while the new building is constructed and also support additional site circulation and athletic facilities as the whole plan is realized.

Next Steps

Throughout 2024, the district will seek feedback from the Oberlin community to gather input on the plan as they consider the future of facilities. There will be more in-person opportunities to engage on this plan, ask questions, and provide input that will complete the district’s master plan. This feedback will be incorporated into the finalization of a master plan, which will culminate in a recommendation to the Board of Education in February 2024.