By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
A school architecture firm has been selected to help Bowling Green City School District residents determine the best solution for aging school buildings.
The firm of Fanning Howey has identified three individuals with expertise in community engagement, school building renovation, school building construction, community-centered visioning, and the State Classroom Facilities Assistance Program, to guide the efforts of the school facilities task force.
The three – Steve Wilczynski, Dan Obrynba and Tim Hamilton – will be at the first joint meeting of the task forces on Aug. 28 at 7 p.m.
The men have some experience working with school districts in Wood County. Wilczynski worked with Eastwood, North Baltimore and Northwood. Obrynba worked with Rossford.
“They are very experienced in community engagement to identify the desires of the community,” said David Conley, a school finance consultant hired by Bowling Green Board of Education to help with the community task force process.
Conley will act as facilitator for the finance task force, which has at least 64 members from the community. The Fanning Howey employees will facilitate the school facilities task force, which has at least 94 members from the community.
According to Conley, the facilitators are knowledgeable about school building renovations and new construction – which was vital since the Bowling Green district is divided about the need to renovate existing sites or build new schools.
“That’s going to be instantly beneficial to the facilities group,” he said.
Fanning Howey has worked with many school districts around Ohio, and was one of the earliest firms to work with the State of Ohio on state funding programs, Conley said.
“They can provide some real immediate feedback to the task force,” he said.
Fanning Howey is volunteering to provide this service to the residents of the district at no charge. The firm is aware that the district is not under any obligation to retain them for any current or future services. According to Conley, the facilitators are also aware that they must report to members of the community facilities task force – which reserves the right to terminate Fanning Howey’s involvement in the process at any time.
“They understand the dynamics of the community and they are willing to fill this role,” Conley said.
Fanning Howey describes the three facilitators as follows. Wilczynski is a planner, who specializes in the planning and design process that links needs of the client with the vision of the larger community. Obrynba, a community engagement specialist, has experience passing bond issues and creating community-centered visions. Hamilton, a former school administrator, has successfully completed complex community engagement and school construction projects.
The facilities group will study the condition of the district’s buildings now and consider future curriculum requirements. Ultimately, the group will decide if the district should renovate old buildings, build new schools, or a combination of the two.
The facilities task force will take guided tours of the five Bowling Green school buildings, hear from state experts about facilities assessments done on the buildings, and visit other Ohio districts that have renovated old buildings and constructed new schools.
The task force will work with the district’s architect on proposals and come up with cost estimates. That information will then go to the financial task force, which will figure out how to pay for the building proposal.
The financial group will look at all forms of funding – earned income tax, traditional income tax, property tax, state funding, corporate contributions, and even go-fund-me sites.
The financial task force will also consider how much the community can afford, and could possibly come up with a cap for the facilities task force.
The recommendations from both groups will be presented to the school board to be placed on the ballot for voter approval.
More information on Fanning Howey can be found at the firm’s website: http://www.fhai.com/.