June 29, 2017

Forest Hills begins final school construction process

During its January meeting, the Forest Hills Board of Education approved Anderson High School’s construction project contract with Performance Construction, marking the beginning of the final school project that is part of the 2014 bond issue.

In addition to air conditioning (which currently does not exist at AHS), new science labs and upgraded security, the Anderson project will include improved learning spaces, energy-efficiencies, handicap-accessibility and needed classroom furniture. Anderson will also receive upgraded technology, electric, plumbing, locker rooms, restrooms and traffic patterns.  A multi-purpose space will be built on the east side of the school.

“We are excited to begin the district’s final construction project,” shared Scot T. Prebles, superintendent. “Upon completion of Anderson High School, each Forest Hills school will be better equipped to meet the collective and personal needs of students. 

“A changing economy; a highly saturated, competitive construction market in southwest Ohio; and unforeseen renovation challenges have impacted the scope of our project,” continued Prebles.  “After much consideration and to ensure all academic and safety goals continue to be met, our Board of Education has modified the transportation plan.  The plan to move buses to the land occupied by the former Central Office no longer makes financial sense and will now jeopardize the ability to meet the educational needs of students. Therefore, buses will remain in their current location, but we will move forward with modifications that allow us to meet our original academic and safety goals. This new plan is one of many examples of our Board’s fiscal leadership that supports academic excellence and has added years to the life of the district’s 2012 operating levy.”

Originally, the district thoroughly studied 11 potential sites for the district’s bus fleet; each was deemed not feasible based on location, economics or availability. District officials then targeted the former Central Office location.

According to Prebles, “The plan had great potential until the final numbers came in.”  

The new plan will address safety by separating buses from the AHS campus with a barrier that matches the aesthetics of the renovated school. Student parking will remain in its current location on the north side of Anderson, but will receive lighting and asphalt improvements.  A fenced, well-lit walking path will be installed from student parking to a new, north-side entrance. The entrance will include bathrooms that will be available during athletic events. Business operations, technology support and food service will remain in the former Central Office; other portions of the building will be repurposed for educational space.  Additional elements of the plan include a larger area for parents to drop-off students; increased event, handicapped-accessible and bus parking; and more greenspace.

“We need to be flexible to address new factors as they occur and continue to meet the expectations and goals of our bond projects,” said Forest Heis, M.D., Board of Education president. “This modified plan will accomplish our original goals while more efficiently and effectively using community resources.”

Rick Toepfer, FHSD treasurer, agreed.

“We promised to be responsible and address needs at every school in the district,” said Toepfer.  “We are keeping those promises by thoughtfully evaluating every project and addressing needs in a manner that keeps us fiscally accountable, protects the community’s investment in our schools, and most importantly, creates the educational environment our students and community deserve.”

The groundbreaking for the Anderson High School project is planned for March.  Anderson is expected to be completed in 2019.