Master Facilities Plan Update

February Master Facilities Plan Update
Posted on 02/23/2021
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building blocksIn March 2020, the Lakota Master Facilities Plan (MFP) committee pressed pause on its work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The committee reconvened in November to continue this important process, as outlined in Lakota’s strategic plan. The last time Lakota completed a modified MFP was in 2008. The last comprehensive plan was completed in the early 2000s.


As the district’s buildings continue to age, master facilities planning is needed to develop and communicate a long-range vision for our school facilities that will protect our district’s most important physical assets and best support our students' current and future educational needs. 


“Lakota’s 25 buildings are valued at more than $400 million,” said Chief Operating Officer Chris Passarge. “In addition to the upkeep needed on our buildings, we also need to look at how our facilities best support the educational opportunities Lakota offers its students.”  


In Dec. 2019, the Board of Education members approved a resolution for the district to enroll in Ohio’s Expedited Local Partnership Program (ELPP), which was valid for one year and has now lapsed. Enrollment in this program allows the district to receive partial financing for approved plans by the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission. The ELPP agreement does not commit the district to completing projects in the facilities plan, but it must be approved by the Board of Education in order to be eligible for reimbursement of funds. Passarge requested that the Board consider approving a new agreement in the near future at its Feb. 22 work session.


Prior to the pandemic, work on the planning process included partnering with educational visioning planner Tracy Richter. Richter facilitated discussions with parents, staff, students and business partners about the future of learning. He will meet with parent, staff and student focus group participants again in March to lead a discussion about how the pandemic has impacted learning, and how that may change the way we think about education in the future. 


The district has planned several opportunities for the community to be involved in the facilities planning process as well. Lakota will host a series of community conversations for parents, secondary students and staff to discuss what lessons have been learned about educating students over the past 11 months. A ThoughtExchange has also been launched to gather input from the community and staff about this same topic.


Richter will share the results of the focus group conversations and ThoughtExchange at a virtual community meeting on March 16 at 6:30 p.m.


The feedback received from all of these events and surveys will be used to determine which plans will best meet the future educational needs of the district. The committee plans to recommend several plans for the School Board to consider at its April 12 meeting. The community will be invited to participate in several virtual meetings with the committee and school board to learn more about the options and share their feedback through a ThoughtExchange. 


After reviewing feedback from staff, parents, students and the community, the school board is scheduled to approve a final master facilities plan at its July 26 meeting. However, the district does not anticipate moving forward with the plan until sometime in 2022. “An approved master facilities plan is a key component of planning for the future of the district,” said Passarge. “While we may not implement elements of the plan for another year or year and a half, we will know what we need to budget and what our community wants for the future of Lakota Local Schools and our students.”