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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions
(Updated 3/12/18)

Recently Added Questions

How many kids attend South Connection? Is it limited to a certain number? How many kids participate in the summer?

According to Christie Smith, the director of South Connection, there are 138 students currently enrolled part-time or full-time. It is difficult if more than 90 students actually attend on any given day after school, but as many as 94 have been there at the same time. It is quite crowded when students can’t go outside. South Community has had difficulty attracting enough qualified candidates to become staff members. Most people who apply have other part-time jobs or commitments that conflict with the hours needed. The better qualified candidates are usually looking for full-time positions. Last summer, there were 89 students enrolled part-time or full-time. Sixty-five is the most that can attend on any given day, since that is the number that can fit on the largest Kettering bus, which are used for field trips.

General Information

Why did the school consider demolishing the school buildings?

The board did not commit to the Master Facilities Plan process with any preconceived or preferred outcomes. We simply wanted to explore all options and not limit the conversation based on what we thought the community might want or not want. We considered everything from repair to restore to renovate to create. To encourage that full and objective evaluation, the board had been considering all options, from doing nothing (maintenance only) to doing everything (building all new buildings). The only concession the board offers is both poles of that framed evaluation seem impracticable. Four of the five board members are graduates of Oakwood High School. They embrace the preservation of the school district's charm, character and history. Yet, the board serves in its capacity to give the community the schools it wants; not the schools the board wants. Further, the board would be equally challenged to support any new construction that would reflect the "cookie-cutter" style going up around Ohio. While it is not for the board alone to decide, the expectation is the community would demand any new construction or renovation align with current Oakwood architectural features and elements (like the myriad of construction the district has realized through the course of its history).

Why is the District looking at its school buildings now?

  • Responsible to ask the tough questions
  • Fiscally responsible to look to the future
  • Responsible for maintaining/sustaining these treasured buildings
  • Don’t want to ignore our responsibility or our community’s legacy
  • Being proactive and forward thinking

Why are we even talking about facilities?

We know there are lots of reasons to love Oakwood, including the services, the community feel, the tree lined streets and the walkability. One of those reasons is also the schools.

We know our community loves our beautiful old buildings, their architecture, their history, their feel, the memories we have created in and around them.

We know we want to protect, to maintain, to retain them.

We know 17 years ago we identified issues and areas of concern with our building's infrastructure and we have addressed some of them. Some of those issues are now 17 years older.

We know we continue to have issues now with our infrastructure including HVAC, energy efficiency, space, etc. Two independent third party teams of engineers, our staff and our students have confirmed these issues.

We know the current investment to maintain and to sustain them in our current budget and the continuance of a break fix approach is not the best plan in the long run.

We know that while we are addressing the infrastructure issues, it is prudent to look at other aspects of our facilities.

And finally, we know our students, education, our teachers, college and the workplace are evolving. In order to prepare our students, we have to consider how our spaces need to evolve too.

Why are you creating a Master Facilities Plan?

The goal of this Master Facilities Plan is to create effective learning environments that will create the development of resources and options for our teachers to empower students to achieve their life goals. We must continue to concentrate throughout this process on what is best for students. We are focused on continuous improvement and adapting to our ever-evolving students to fulfill our vision of helping our students be Prepared, Proud and Poised. By creating a long-range master plan, we can achieve our goal of providing to generations of Oakwood students a safe, warm, dry and flexible space to learn while remaining financially responsible to our taxpayers. We will continue to provide open, honest and professional communication, transparency and multiple opportunities for community members to get involved and share feedback.

What is wrong with our existing school buildings?

According to two independent teams, staff and students there are problems with:Leaking and failing plumbing

    • Insufficient and outdated heating, ventilation and electrical systems
    • Classrooms smaller than recommended square footage
    • Less than optimum space
    • Multiple issues with ADA accessibility

    What are the needs new schools would address?

    New facilities include engineering systems such as air conditioning, heating, ventilation, lighting and temperature controls that are at the very beginning of each individual life cycle. Even though this can be accomplished with renovation, a new facility may be able to address the design and installation in a more efficient manner.

    What is driving the timeline for the process?

    Our Board of Education has committed to taking the time needed to be sure we do our due diligence in the development of the Master Facilities Plan. We believe the 12 to 18 month timeline to develop the MFP is realistic but not carved in stone.

    Is there a priority list of what is absolutely necessary to maintain the buildings?

    The district is currently assembling that “absolutely necessary” priority list now.

    Why does Oakwood have to compare to state standards (classroom size, repairs, etc.) when we are already ranked as one of the best school districts in Ohio?

    It is not the district’s intent to allow such comparisons to dictate its decision making. Our intent is to have a standard baseline assessment against which we can meaningfully evaluate these data points as part of our overall assessment. State standards allow a common framework.

    Community/Student/Staff Involvement

    How have teachers been involved in the process?

    • Interviewed and observed during educational assessments
    • Regular two-way communication including:
    • Surveys
    • Committees
    • Small group and full building meetings
    • Workshops,
    • Field trips to other districts and learning sites

    What do teachers think about the facilities?

    • Love the feel and traditions of the buildings
    • Dislike the HVAC, noise, space constraints, restrooms, cafeteria space
    • Desire for flexible learning space, large group spaces, devoted fine arts area, becoming more accessible
    • Questions regarding security, classroom sizes, water and air quality, electrical issues

    How can parents get involved in the project?

    • Attend meetings and workshops, join committees and future opportunities

    Who are members of the groups that have been involved since fall?

    You can see the complete Master Facilities Plan roster at

    How will students be involved in the process?

    So far, students have been a part of the Facility Advisory Committee, workshops and the Principal/Superintendent Advisory Group. Students will also be included in future focus groups.

    As Oakwood has a number of aging community assets, could we combine fitness center, library, community meeting rooms and school needs?

    Yes, we are open to possible options that might address multiple community challenges. Various members of community groups are part of the MFP team.

    How is community input being considered in this process

    The Oakwood Schools Board of Education requires a totally open, honest and transparent process from the beginning. Whether it is in person, one-on-one, in small groups or in workshops, online, or through emails or phone calls, community input is central to the process. It will drive development of the options, narrowing of the options and the selection of the option, as well as the timing of the implementation.

    How are recent graduates’ opinions being included in the information-gathering process?

    We have heard from a number of recent grads through various social media channels and our College Connections program.

    Future of Education

    Are we sure brick and mortar schools are the way of the future?

    We are not sure of anything - but for the foreseeable future we believe our buildings will play a key role in the education of our children and grandchildren and will continue to play a central role in our community. We have seen a lot of pedagogical shifts during the last five to ten years that change the way we engage our students, but none of those changes have resulted in the elimination of physical school buildings. They have simply modified the way we program and allocate spaces.


    How will any of these projects be funded?

    It will probably be a combination of local tax monies with some private donations. There is also the possibility of state funds to help. District leaders are consulting with our Business Advisory Committee and Bond Underwriter to consider financial options for our community. Bond Funds, Permanent Improvement Funds, state dollars and private donations.

    Is there state or federal money to support these projects?

    State money could be possible through the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC). There are no federal dollars available.

    Will the state contribute money toward new or renovated buildings?

    The District is partnering with the OFCC through the Expedited Local Partnership Program (ELPP). This program could allow the District to pursue a facilities project and receive a future 26% contribution (for the base plan) from the State of Ohio. The State would support new or renovated buildings assuming certain planning criteria are met.

    What are the costs of renovating our current buildings? How does this compare to the cost of new construction?

    Currently, the renovation costs from the assessment at the 10-year mark (2027) represent approximately 55-63% of the cost for building new. Those costs do include an inflation factor of 3%, so as time goes on, the renewal costs will increase. For a specific breakdown by building, please see the Renewal Index portion of the Community Meeting Presentation at beginning with slide #106.

    What data was used to build the “purple” bar chart height?

    Complete assessments were done on all of the different systems with the school buildings (walls, roofs, finishes, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, technology, security, technology). Their life expectancy was analyzed and future repairs and replacements over time were projected. The assessing team utilizes a robust software program that is tied directly to a national construction cost database to provide estimating, budgeting and phasing solutions. The software utilizes industry cost and benchmarking data, such as RSMeans, BCIS and BOMA to ensure reliable cost projections for deferred maintenance and systems renewal.

    If we say our classrooms are too small, why is the replacement costs based on the same square footage? Wouldn’t we be looking at building larger spaces?

    That is strictly a way for comparing the costs for renewal of existing facilities to the cost for building new. It is not a final reflection of what a new facility would cost with all the amenities that may be expected by the Oakwood Community. We would be looking at building larger classrooms, but in order to do a direct comparison of renovated vs. new, identical square footages are considered. With that said, there are a lot of inefficiencies in the existing buildings, as a result of many years of additions. These inefficiencies have led to circulation square footage that could be correcting, allowing for a shift in square-footage from the corridors into the classrooms.

    What dollar amount is allowed to be spent by the district before community input is required?

    Per Ohio Revised Code, there is not a current law that specifies a dollar amount threshold that governments must gain community input before spending. There is a specific procedure for the selection of architects per state law for school districts and that procedure has been followed. There is also another law about the competitive bidding process the Oakwood Schools has consistently followed without exception.

    Are costs being considered when developing options?

    The assessment component to the Master Facilities Plan Options is being pulled directly from the detailed assessment costs associated with each building. Those costs are derived from a national database monitored by R.S. Means. Total project cost and direct homeowner tax impact are critical considerations when developing options and are actively being considered. Options presented to the community will be accompanied with associated costs.

    What funding options are available other than turning to taxpayers?

    We are pursuing the possibility of using funding from the State of Ohio through participation in the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission’s Classroom Facilities Assistance Program as well as private donations.

    When will any current bond issues be dropping off?

    The bond issue that passed in 2002 was first on the tax rolls in 2003 and has a life of 28 years. Collection will stop in 2031.

    Is the Board of Education re-assessing it’s strategy for the use of operating capital fund to address the decline of the physical facilities?

    Safe and inviting instructional spaces are important for Oakwood Schools. The district, in undergoing all aspects of this Master Facilities Planning, will study all available avenues for resources when considering options and how to best accomplish them.

    Is the district going to conduct a comprehensive financial analysis to determine what the community can afford?

    We are not aware of a comprehensive financial analysis that could determine what the community can afford. What one taxpayer could easily afford, another may not be able to. The Oakwood Schools will conduct community surveys to try to establish what community members wants and how willing they are to pay for it.

    Have district leaders considered the impact to the schools and education when post-graduate families are driven out by costs?

    We do have some families who choose to move after their students graduate but we also have a great deal of families who choose to stay. Oakwood offers many wonderful benefits beyond the schools. We have heard quite often that folks may move here for the schools but they stay for the great community feel, city services, sidewalks and parks.

    Does the board have unlimited authority to spend taxpayer dollars, without prior consent or approval?

    The authority of any Ohio public school district board of education is conferred by O.R.C Chapter 3313.01. The community elects board members to oversee the school district and the resources provided. The allocation of funds and expenditures is highly regulated and regularly officially audited to be sure money is spent within the parameters set by BOE policy, ORC 3313.01, etc.

    The Oakwood School District has always been good stewards of the taxpayers’ money. The State of Ohio audits the school district each year. The district has received the best possible opinion on its financial statements for many decades, without any instances of misuse of public funds. The district has received national awards from outside professional organizations for its consistent financial reporting for more than 20 years. The Oakwood School District also has a citizen review committee, the Oakwood Schools’ Business Advisory Committee, that reviews the monthly and yearly financial reports of the district. This citizens committee has been utilized for more than 25 years. Current School Treasurer/CFO Kevin Philo has been with the Oakwood Schools for 24 years and has more than 30 years experience in public finance, including working in two other Ohio school districts and the State of Ohio Auditor’s Office. He has received many awards throughout his career. Oakwood Schools spends 74 cents of every dollar directly in the classroom, one of the highest percentages in the state.

    Transportation Issues

    What percentage of students live within a half of a mile from the school they attend? Three-quarters of a mile? One mile? More than one mile?

    We are currently compiling this information but do not have the exact figures at this time. The answer will be posted as soon as possible.

    What are the implications on transportation that would come with changes to the locations of the buildings?

    If changing locations of the buildings was a solution we decided on, we would certainly need to discuss the implications and possible options for transporting some of our students.

    What percentage of Harman, Smith, Lange and OJH/OHS students walk to school?

    It depends on a number of factors, including weather, on any given day. But preliminary numbers are 35% of JH/HS students walk or ride bikes, the rest of the students drive or get a ride. At Smith a survey found approximately 60% of students walk or ride bikes. At Harman, approximately 40% walk to school and at Lange 2% walk.


    Does replacement cost include maintenance?

    It does not include day-to-day repairs such as light bulb replacement or filter replacement. It does include the renewal or replacement of systems that have exceeded their life cycle.

    What are the expenses for repairs to major systems for the last 5,10 and 20 years?

    The Oakwood Schools have spent an average of $600,000 annually, maintaining the buildings and their systems during the past five years. In the last five years, we have spent approximately $3 million. We have spent $4.5 million in the last 10 years and $27 million, including new construction, in the last 15 years.

    How much, if any, asbestos is present in the current buildings and causing harm to students?

    All asbestos currently contained in any of the buildings does not present a danger to students in its present form. Asbestos only becomes an issue when disturbed.

    How much has the district spent on maintenance during the past five years by building and by athletic facility?

    You can see the facilities expenditures for 2012 - 2017 on our district website on our Master Facilities Plan page.

    How much of our property taxes go toward repairing the buildings?

    Currently about $600,000 per year is allocated towards building repair and other infrastructure needs.

    Teaching/Curriculum Development

    With the rapidly changing world, is it realistic to create a 50-year plan for our schools?

    Yes, if we are realistic about the need for flexibility of space and designing and investing in top quality equipment by focusing on the long-term costs rather than initial costs.

    How are current classrooms hindering “global connections”?

    They might not be currently hindering to a great extent but here are technology-infused spaces being created in school that could offer an environment unlike a typical classroom. These spaces have a more interactive component with multiple monitors and enhanced "connectability." There are some concerns when looking at available power for one-to-one devices in the current classrooms. We would also like to see more collaboration spaces for both smaller and large group activities. These collaboration spaces are also supported by display and presentation devices for potentially communicating/skyping with classrooms across the world.

    What will be done to change teacher training and improve curriculum to revolutionize learning?

    We invest a great deal of time, money and effort into our continual improvement focus and investment in professional development. We focus on the growth of our students, our teachers, our staff, our administration and our Board of Education. All of this is done to keep abreast of the best practices and the latest research and pedagogical advancements in the field.

    How do interior windows in classrooms impact students who are distracted by visual stimuli?

    Transparency and Passive Supervision is an important concept in school design. This concept promotes the idea that learning should be visible and celebrated. It helps create an atmosphere that gives a sense of openness yet preserves acoustic separation. It provides opportunities for peer-to-peer learning at both the staff and student level. It allows teachers to extend their teaching space to outside the four walls of their classrooms since they now have visibility beyond the classroom walls. It provides visual relief to the student who needs to escape momentarily before re-engaging. The transparency has proven to NOT be a continual distraction for students as they quickly learn to adjust to the visual noise. This concept has proven to help prepare students for the next step in their life journey which will most likely have more distractions than now. With any design project, however, ideas like this must be fully vetted by the staff and students to ensure this will be an appropriate solution for them, As with any change or new idea, professional development and thoughtful conversations must take place.

    Is more space in our classrooms going to create more “top-notch” students?

    We know we already have top-notch students and more space alone will not improve our students’ performance. However, with greater professional development for our staff, we believe more flexible space and a greater variety of spaces will facilitate our students’ and staff’s ability to collaborate, cooperate, communicate, problem solve and create at deeper levels.

    Class Size

    With Oakwood schools continuing to provide top rated education year after year, how can you say the existing spaces hinder education?

    The current space inhibits the options of our master teachers to create collaboration space, maker spaces and areas for small and large group interactions. Our student are moving into learning environments in college and the workplace that do not look like their learning space in their k-12 education. This hinders their development and throttles them back from running as fast and as far as they could.

    When talking about standard classroom sizes, how many students are considered to be in a standard class?

    Class size in this context is about square footage not the number of students in the space. OFCC standards are based on 25 students in a typical classroom of 900 sq. ft.

    What is the average class size in Oakwood in the different buildings?

    Class sizes from 2012-2016 can be found at

    Do enrollment projections include new construction on NCR site?


    What is the maximum number of students permitted in a classroom in the district?

    There are no official maximums but it depends on a variety of factors including the age of the students and subjects taught.

    Has the student population increased? Is it projected to increase or decrease?

    During the past 10 years, the district enrollment has been steady ranging from 2211 to 2073. The most recent enrollment projections by Future Think predict relatively steady enrollment for the next 10 years ranging from 2039 to 1973.

    Design/Construction Questions

    What land is available for building?

    The Oakwood Schools District owns a very limited amount of land, with all currently being utilized. Some spaces, such as the athletic area between Schantz and Shafor could be repurposed for more academic endeavors.

    If a new building were built, where would it be?

    Any new construction would need to be built on land currently owned by the district or we would need to work out an agreement with the owner.

    Where would students go during construction?

    This is a detail we have not answered yet and will not be able to until the options are narrowed. This is a critical issue for all of the options.

    How much money have the professional architecture and engineering firms been paid?

    The district has a contract with the three architectural firms for a combined total of $288,665 as earlier reported.

    What was the process in hiring the “dream team”?

    Local, state and national architect companies with an interest in school work were notified the Oakwood Schools had issued a RFQ (Request for Qualifications). Ten companies applied and interviews were given to the top three firms. The final selection was made by the administration with Board of Education approval.

    Is the “dream team” contracted for the entire project or will there be open bids to other firms?

    The current Design Team is under contract for the Master Planning Phase (between now and when a possible issue might be placed before voters). After successful funding of a project, the District will release Requests for Qualifications to select a Design Team to execute the Project.

    Are there plans to change the footprint of any of the buildings? Would neighbors be included in construction plans?

    There are no “plans” yet for anything, however there are a couple of potential options that do include additions and/or selective removal of some areas. These options will be further developed and refined during the next few months with input from stakeholders. Input from neighbors would be included in any plans for expansion of our facilities.

    Can you change the interior of the buildings without changing the exterior?

    Interior spaces can be reconfigured without altering the exterior up to a certain point. While interior non-load bearing walls can be moved more readily, interior load bearing walls are difficult and costly to move. Since most of our internal corridors are flanked by load bearing walls, major interior layout changes are likely impractical and cost prohibitive.

    Is it possible to flip the parking lot and the playground area at Lange to avoid students walking across the parking lot?

    There could be ways to design the parking lot to limit the chance of cars mixing with students, however the blacktop area (where cars drop off and pick up) also also serves as a hard surface playground for the students.

    Is energy efficiency and environmental sustainability being incorporated into options in the Master Facilities Plan?

    Anything designed as a part of the project, be it renewal, renovation or new construction, would be designed to be as energy efficient and sustainable as the budget can support.

    Why did the school board spend $288,000 of taxpayer funds to engage design professionals in this process?

    The decision was made to engage design professionals (architects and engineers) to assist the board in continuing its assessment and evaluation of the district buildings, infrastructure and capital assets in order to promote reasonable and prudent stewardship of the schools and the manner in which they are maintained. Prior to such engagement, the board undertook a multi-month effort and toured each of our buildings to observe, in part, current conditions, like infrastructure, classrooms, storage space, meeting space, grounds and utilization. The board's observations led to the belief additional scrutiny, assessment and guidance was important. As much as we wished to better understand what we were seeing, we also wished to understand what, if anything, we should be seeing. This expenditure of funds was intended to drive a complete evaluation of current conditions to be measured against current best practices.

    We believe spending $288,665, less than 1% of the potential repair costs, to get accurate information was money well spent.

    • Ruetschle Architects, and their subcontractors Emersion Design and Fanning + Howey, have billed Oakwood Schools $146,537 as of Jan. 29, 2018. For that $146,537, Ruetschle’s share is 27%, Emersion’s share is 41%, and Fanning + Howey is 32%. The remaining $142,128 ($288,665 - $146,537) is for future work or completed work for which the schools have not been billed.
    • The contract contains a specific task list, showing the hours and costs.
    • The agreement is for Pre-Bond limited services only. Ruetschle has no guaranteed contract or financial gain if this project moves forward.

    As to the question of how much money has been spent on studies regarding a proposal to tear down existing building and replace with one K-12 campus, our design team briefly explored a new K-12 campus concept. The estimated work for that option cost $733.

    Other Questions

    What are district officials’ top priorities?

    Our priorities are that our learning environments will:

    • Facilitate individual learners
    • Be fiscally efficient
    • Be responsive to the community (households with and without children)
    • Promote and encourage healthy relationships
    • Enhance collaboration and creativity
    • Provide a safe place to learn and work
    • Be accessible to all

    What other school districts comparable to Oakwood have had similar plans and assessments?

    Approximately 80% of districts in the state of Ohio have undergone similar assessments and plans

    What if i have additional questions? Where can i get more information?

    Additional information, background of the facility and community engagement process, state reports, and presentation shared at community meetings are available on the Oakwood City Schools; website at You can also send questions to

    When were the options developed and how will the options incorporate community feedback?

    The options process started with teacher meetings, occurring in the fall of 2017. Input from teachers was extrapolated into the Visioning Questions posed to the community in November 2017. Options started to form in late 2017 and are continuing to be developed and refined with continuous input from teachers and stakeholders. Draft master plan options will be presented to the community with a goal of receiving community feedback Feb. 28, 2018 and during the following months.

    How many students are eating in the cafeteria on a daily basis?

    The number of students eating in the cafeteria is not tracked on a daily basis and each building varies. The number of lunches sold at the elementary schools varies from roughly 100 to 200 per day, with the addition of students who pack their lunch eating in the cafeterias as well.

    Why does Oakwood have one lunch hour throughout the district if there’s overcrowding in the cafeterias?

    This is a topic we have wrestled with for many years. The advantages of an open lunch have simply outweighed the issues associated with it.

    To what extent does the overall quality of the schools reflect the make-up of the community?

    The key to the District’s success is directly tied to the outstanding students who walk through our doors every day ready to learn, our highly committed parents who value education, a supportive community and a highly trained and dedicated staff.

    Why isn’t the board refuting statements being made on or related social media feeds?

    The board is aware of community members who are speaking out against the Master Facilities Plan process. We know true public engagement is challenging. We also believe it is critically important to a democratic environment to allow alternative voices to be heard. At the heart of this master facilities process, the board wanted to spark and ensure community engagement. Such intention cannot be controlled or quieted when inconvenient. It is best served organically, through an open and shared platform. Although there appears to be division between certain factions of the community and the board, the board believes such divide is attributable to flawed communication, fueled by emotion. The board accepts its role in this divide and looks forward to working to close any gaps. We will continue to provide the facts while respecting opposing opinions. We will proactively share information through multiple channels, have open dialogue with stakeholders and provide forums and opportunities to listen and to share. We all love our schools, our students, our teachers and our community. Such common ground will serve our interests well as we look for mutually agreeable and beneficial solutions.

    Why is the district sometimes slow to answer questions from the community?

    Oakwood Schools administrators are willing and available to answer questions from the public. However, when those questions are framed in a Public Records Request or a Freedom of Information Act request, a highly regulated and legal process begins. District administrators have extensive experience dealing with Public Records Request Law and receive regular training from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office on compliance.

    The following is the email response referenced in the OR claiming refusal to answer the question:

    “I have received your Freedom of Information request of January 31, 2018. I had offered to meet with you to explain the difference between the Federal Freedom of Information Act that you may have confused with the Ohio Public Records Act, however you said that was not necessary at this time. The Federal Freedom of Information Act is applicable to the United States Federal Government and is not applicable to State and Local Governments. In Ohio there is the Ohio Public Records Act and I emailed you separately our policy and how we follow that law. In essence, under this Ohio law, we are not required to answer questions and create documents, but simply provide already created public documents that detail the work of our government, with some exceptions by law. In your request, you stated that you would like getting answers to these following questions that I will address individually following the statement/question.”

    And following that statement, we answered the questions.

    We continue to be open, honest and professional in our communications and interactions with our stakeholders. The timeliness of responding to questions, inquiries and requests is a priority for any organization. We continue to respond in a variety of ways including but not limited to: face-to-face meetings, phone calls and emails. However, what is a reasonable amount of time depends on a variety of factors including the type, depth and format of the inquiry and response, as well as the timing of that inquiry. Sometimes it is immediate, sometimes 24 hours, sometimes 7 days, sometimes longer.