Sycamore Master Facility Plan

Issue 18 on November 5 Ballot

Sycamore Community,

Issue 18 on the November 5 ballot will help Sycamore Schools address aged facilities, expand early childhood opportunities, and enhance excellent academic programming. Our goal is to equip you with the most up-to-date information so that you can feel informed and confident in these discussions.
Big picture
Big picture

Our Three-Year Process

The process began three years ago with two extensive facility assessments, 20 community engagement sessions, three educational visioning sessions, and 14 concept testing sessions with the community. The Board of Education received extensive feedback from staff, families, students, and the community that guided the decision-making.


Although the district’s school buildings have been well maintained, the costs associated with repairing obsolete facilities and mechanical systems are simply no longer a prudent investment of taxpayer dollars.

WATCH: Our Reason For Why

Sycamore Schools Master Facility Plan: The Why

Phase I: Facility Assessment (2016 and 2018)

A team of third-party experts evaluated all buildings in 2016 and 2018 based on the state of Ohio’s standards for new buildings. They examined architectural and structure conditions, as well as mechanical, electrical, and plumbing.
Big picture
Facility assessments revealed the cost to renovate E.H. Greene Intermediate School and Sycamore Junior High School would be more than 60% of the cost to replace the aging buildings. Major systems at these facilities have reached their end of life, including plumbing, heating, and electrical systems.


While the assessments also indicated a significant need for improvements at Sycamore High School, the district decided the most fiscally responsible option was to renovate the building to current standards.


The district will also renovate Symmes Elementary, which was built in 1988, to accommodate growth at that particular school as well as increase early childhood opportunities.


The average life of a school in Ohio is 45 years. Our facilities on average are nearly 60 years old. The assessments also revealed the classroom sizes at some of our buildings are smaller than current industry standards.


You can see the Facilities Assessment Report by clicking here.

Big picture
Big picture

Phase II: Community Engagement (Winter 2018)

The district also held 20 community engagement sessions in early 2018. Nearly 1,400 people gave feedback about our facilities.

Big picture

Phase II: Educational Visioning (Spring 2018)

The district also held educational visioning sessions with staff, families, and local business leaders to understand the current shifts occurring in education.

WATCH: Educational Visioning

Sycamore Master Facility Planning: Educational Visioning

Outcomes From Educational Visioning

Big picture

Phase III: Concept Testing (Winter 2019)

Based on Phase I and Phase II results, the Master Facility steering committee came up with 20 different options that were flexible for future trends and respectful of sound fiscal practices. The district eliminating all but three options based on overall cost, operational costs, grade configuration, and academic programming impact.


During the concept testing phase in Winter 2019, the district held 14 sessions to gather feedback on three options. Nearly 1,000 participants were surveyed on their preferences.


The community made it clear that the option to maintain our current configuration was the most preferred. But the results also clearly indicated a desire for more early childhood opportunities in our neighborhood elementary schools.

Phase IV: Board Approval (Spring 2019)

The Board of Education approved the placement of a $127.5 million bond issue on the November 5, 2019 ballot. The plan includes:

Rebuild:

  • E.H. Greene Intermediate

  • Sycamore Junior High

  • Sycamore Stadium (Requires a minimum of $2.5 million in private funding)

Renovate:

  • Sycamore High School

  • Symmes Elementary

Expand:

  • Preschool program expanding to Blue Ash and Symmes Elementary

  • Potential for full-day kindergarten in the future

Enhance (Minimal updates to classroom furniture):

  • Blue Ash Elementary

  • Maple Dale Elementary

  • Montgomery Elementary

Conceptual Designs Released (Fall 2019)

The exact details of the designs have not been decided. If the bond issue is approved in November, Sycamore Community Schools will seek input from staff, students, families, and the community in the design process for our buildings.
Big picture
Big picture
Big picture
Big picture

Private and Public Funding For Sycamore Stadium

Both facility assessments found the stadium in need of significant renovations and updates to address Americans with Disabilities Act and safety requirements. The estimated cost to renovate this facility to current high school standards is nearly $4 million. The estimated cost to build a new stadium located on the high school campus is $5 million, or 2% of the total bond issue.


The Board of Education has committed to raising $2.5 million through private funding. The district is actively working to reach this goal. If our private funding goal is not reached, the $2.5 million in the bond issue will be used to renovate the current stadium as best we can with minimum funding.

Big picture

Issue 18: The Cost To Taxpayers

Interest rates are at an all-time low and the district is committed to using taxpayer dollars responsibly.


While the ballot language indicates the issue is a 4.0 mill increase, Sycamore Schools will structure the debt so that homeowners will see a 2.4 mill increase or $7 per $100,000 of property value per month. ($84 per $100,000 annually)


The district will slowly phase in the new millage as prior bond issues expire over the next 3-9 years. The calculator on the Hamilton County Auditor's website does not reflect the district's commitment to responsibly phase in the new millage. The following videos explain how this will work:

Watch: How Our Bond Issue Will Work

Sycamore Schools Nov. 2019 Bond Issue Explained (Part I)
Sycamore Schools Nov. 2019 Bond Issue Explained (Part II)

The Impact On Property Tax Rates

If approved, Sycamore’s property tax rate will remain well below the average for districts in Hamilton County and neighboring districts.


Sycamore Schools is currently the 20th lowest out of 25 districts. If the bond issue is approved in November and no other districts have bond/levy issues approved, Sycamore Schools will jump up one spot to the 19th lowest out of 25 districts.

Big picture

Neighboring Districts with Bond/Levy Issues on November Ballot

Big picture

Timeline For Construction

The district will make every effort to minimize the interruption to teaching and learning. The district experienced building on-site at Maple Dale and will utilized lessons learned from that process.

Big picture

Need More Information?


We have provided a great deal of information about our three-year Master Facility Planning process on our website. We encourage you to click through each phase of the plan for a deeper understanding of our process and how we carefully evaluated our facilities and engaged the community.


Our Frequently Asked Questions section has answers to questions like, "Did the district consider state/alternative funding options?" and, "Will the plan require the district to come back to the community for additional operating levy before 2021 as promised?"


Still have questions? Email us at mfp@sycamoreschools.org