Athens City Schools To Set Up Survey On School Funding

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Athens City School District will use a survey to reach out to the community for opinions and ideas concerning how state money should be spent to improve the district's schools.

The district’s number will come up sometime in the next few months for facilities co-funding, according to Associate Supt. Tom Gibbs.

Gibbs said that the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OFSC) will look at the city schools with rebuilding or renovations in mind, with the state providing 32 percent of the cost.

Gibbs said that the idea behind the survey is to find out how community members feel about different programs and housing for students, enabling the board to narrow down some of the choices.

“When we brainstormed we came up with so many different configurations,” he said.

The survey, said Martin, will be posted on the district’s web site in the next couple of weeks and sent out to parents via Infinite Campus.

“You’ll answer a few demographic questions about whether you have kids in school, and things like that,” he said, “And then you just rate on a scale of one to five the importance of these different concepts. There’ll be open-ended questions as well.”

From the results, he said, the district hopes to come up with a narrower list of possibilities. The board must come up with a master plan, he said, adding that state funding requires a full-commitment, and plans must adhere to strict standards.

The OSFC is a 16-year-old agency within the state government, separate from the Department of Education, which receives each year a “relative wealth” ranking list of 613 Ohio public schools. Schools are ranked in terms of district wealth, with number one being the poorest and 613 being the richest district in the state.

Martin said that the district’s position on the list is 471.

“That means that 471 schools got money before we did,” he said.

However, he said, the district was placed in an expedited program, receiving credit for spending its own money to maintain and update its schools over the years.

“We have significant work to do,” he said. “We want to look to the future and make modernizations so that they’ll last 25-30 years.”

Martin said that Morrison-Gordon Elementary was built in 1980 and its systems are outdated and inefficient.

“That’s just one small example,” he said, “We’ll save a lot of dollars by making things more energy-efficient. I believe it’s worth it.”

“I’ve been working toward this day for 15 years, waiting for our number to come up,” Martin said. “And we don’t have pre-conceived notions. That’s why we’re publishing a survey.”

Parents and members of the public can find the survey on the Athens City Schools’ district website.