Quaker Valley set to unveil timeline, cost of new high school
Quaker Valley leaders are inviting residents to tour the district's 92-year-old high school, talk with students and ask administrators questions about plans to build a new high school.
The district will hold three community forums — Jan. 22, Feb. 3 and 19 — where details about the new high school project will be discussed.
At those forums, administrators will share a timeline for the project, cost approximations and what this means for the individual taxpayer — answering the ultimate question, “What is this going to cost me?”
Quaker Valley School District Superintendent Heidi Ondek said she did not have those numbers finalized as of last week.
“We recognize this is a huge community investment,” Ondek said. “This is the biggest project in this community in probably the last 100 years and it will impact the next 100 years.”
District leaders have worked for several years to “lay the groundwork” for the project, bringing in BrainSpaces, a nationally recognized education planning firm, and MAYA Design, a design consultancy and research lab, to create an educational plan to build a “high school of the future” in Quaker Valley, Ondek said.
The district has held community input sessions and meet-and-greets at coffee shops to talk with residents.
Through those talks, they found, the main thing the community wants in a new high school includes a building within the community, which Ondek called a “huge factor” in the district's move to purchase a $7.5 million 128-acre site in 2017. The four properties previously had been purchased by Three Rivers Trust with plans to build a home and farm on the land.
Other priorities included having a safe, healthy and nurturing environment, and should be a hub of activity and a source of pride in the community, BrainSpaces found through talks with the community.
“They want a facility that drives teaching and learning in a new direction,” Ondek said.
That includes flexible spaces that meet the needs of every person — no matter how they learn.
Instead of a large auditorium or cafeteria, the school could have a multi-purpose space that's flexible, Ondek said.
District leaders have reiterated that there's a need for a new school — pointing to aging infrastructure and constraints the building provides for educational programming.
“There's nothing like seeing the spaces and hearing the students speak of the limitations,” Ondek said, noting the district is not waiting for a new high school to start implementing “best educational practices.”
All of this is “still a work in progress,” she said, noting the project is still “several years out.”
It will be a multi-year process with site planning that will take a minimum of three years to complete. Architectural designs could be drawn up simultaneously.
“We have an aging building, but a safe building,” she said.
Ondek said it was “too early to put an exact figure” on the cost of a new school last week. However, approximate costs will be presented to the public at the community forums.
Stephanie Hacke is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.