School district has a building glut

The CH-UH Board of Education (BOE) needs to develop a comprehensive facilities plan to efficiently manage its aging infrastructure. The CH-UH school district owns 14 buildings:

  • Heights High: renovated 2017, 372,334 square feet, 1,519 enrolled students (as of Jan. 13, 2023), 245 square feet per student.
  • Wiley: built 1954, 147,819 square feet, 0 students.
  • Monticello Middle: built 1930, 126,780 square feet, 526 students, 241 square feet/student.
  • Roxboro Middle: built 1931, 111,152 square feet, 576 students, 193 square feet/student.
  • Boulevard: built 1974, 51,537 square feet, 281 students, 183 square feet/student.
  • Canterbury: built 1927, 65,800 square feet, 325 students, 202 square feet/student.
  • Fairfax: built 1974, 59,000 square feet, 302 students, 195 square feet/student.
  • Gearity: built 1954, 70,856 square feet, 235 students, 302 square feet/student.
  • Noble: built 1922, 74,250 square feet, 377 students, 197 square feet/student.
  • Oxford: built 1928, 61,400 square feet, 247 students, 249 square feet/student.
  • Roxboro Elementary: built 1920, 55,600 square feet, 231 students, 241 square feet/student.   
  • BOE building: built 1960, 31,903 square feet, 0 students.
  • Delisle Options: built 1974, 59,000 square feet, 114 students, 518 square feet/student.
  • Millikin: built 1953, 54,680 square feet, 0 students.

In addition, the school district offers preschool to 110 students, and Tiger Virtual Academy has 66 enrolled.

Districtwide, total school space is 1,342,111 square feet. As of Jan. 13, 2023, total district enrollment was 4,909. That works out to 273 square feet/student.

Per the 2022 Ohio School Design manual (OSDM), the recommended square-foot-to-student ratios are:

  • Elementary school (pre-K through fifth grade): 104-125 square feet/student.
  • Middle school (sixth through eighth grade): 119-151 square feet/student.
  • High school (ninth through 12th grade): 156-180 square feet/student.

At the high end, assuming an average of 156 square feet/student across building types, CH-UH needs 765,804 square feet of classroom space. Under state guidelines, the district has an excess of 544,404 square feet; 40% of the available classroom space in the district.

CH-UH previously reviewed its high school and middle school needs and, based on that review, rebuilt the high school then partially renovated Roxboro and Monticello middle schools. At that time, the BOE committed to examine elementary schools.

It is time for both a review of elementary classroom needs and of the district’s other under-utilized and non-academic buildings, including Millikin (closed but used for storage and trades), Wiley (closed), and Delisle (special programs and district offices annex).

The district is supporting a glut of real estate with no plan for its use or disposal going forward. The district’s taxpayers are funding the maintenance and upkeep of buildings that, on average, exceed 70 years of age and provide more space than is needed.

The BOE must act quickly to implement a plan for managing the district’s facilities. State guidelines for space per student and the cost of maintaining older facilities almost certainly means that the board will need to close buildings. While closing a building (or five) will be politically unpopular, the community elected the board to make hard decisions and ensure fiscal responsibility to maximize the benefit of scarce resources to the students.


John Janssen

John Janssen, Heights High alum (class of ’84), is chair of the CH-UH Lay Facilities Committee.

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Volume 17, Issue 6, Posted 8:53 AM, 05.29.2024