Could a new building be in Aurora schools' future?

AURORA – A new building could be in the school district’s future, and if erected it could spell the end of life for the aging Craddock building. However, nothing has been decided yet, including location and grade levels.

After the board of education gave the green light for the administration to explore the possibility of a new building, a survey of district families was completed in May and a series of four citizen input meetings took place in September.

“My plan is to share the public’s and staff’s wish lists with the board of education at its Oct. 24 regular meeting,” said Superintendent Mike Roberto, adding the district has already begun advertising to find interested architectural firms.

“We hope to interview those firms in November and December and have a recommendation for the board in January 2023. Then we’d ask the selected firm to develop a cost analysis by March.”

A construction committee then would be formed, other schools would be visited and community and staff meetings would take place, with final designs to be in place by late 2023 or early 2024.

“We are targeting November 2024 as the date for a possible bond issue,” Roberto said. “If all goes well, we’d like to have the new building completed by August 2026.”

Roberto said it is too early to determine a cost estimate for the new building, but it’s likely the project would be totally funded locally.

“Based on the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission’s eligibility ranking list, we’re in the bottom quartile and would qualify only for a small percentage of help from the state,” he said. “It’s my understanding this portion would most likely not cover the requirements the OFC could establish for using these funds.”

Roberto noted the topic of possible construction came up several months ago after some parents expressed concern about the growing enrollment in the schools and how new housing will impact the district.

Roberto said 1,215 district families responded to the survey, which represents 1,882 students or about 63 percent of the student population.

“About ¾ of those surveyed believe under the current circumstance the schools should at least investigate building a new school within the next five years,” Roberto said.

Of the 75 percent of respondents who favored new school construction, about half believe Craddock would be the building they’d target for replacement.

Roberto said 87 percent of the parents responding indicated they would support a bond issue to construct a new building.

The oldest building in the district is on East Garfield Road and now houses the central offices (originally Aurora High School). The first section of the attached Craddock School was built in the 1940s, and several sections were added, the last in 1965.

“Interestingly, the second most selected choice at 26 percent of those answering this part of the survey suggests the district should consider keeping all five buildings and adding a sixth,” said Roberto.

The board has developed preliminary profiles for three different grade-level options – a high school, a four-grade elementary and a two-grade intermediate. Roberto said those were shared at the September public forums, as well as with the district’s staff.

The profiles outline factors such as the number of estimated classrooms, whether a swimming pool would be part of the building, size of the auditorium, number of cafeterias and parking spaces, and several other items.

“Our families overwhelmingly [43 percent] would like to see a new high school built, with a plan of having our sixth to eighth grades move to the existing AHS, third to fifth to Harmon and kindergarten to second to Leighton.

“Twenty-two percent of those responding believe the district should consider a K to 3 or PK to 2 building as the new school, and about 12 percent suggested a new building could hold two grade levels such as four/five or one/two.”

But the schools chief said there is much more that needs to be done before the board considers new construction.

Information from the Ohio Facilities Commission audit, which was completed on the district prior to the coronavirus pandemic, is being studied, as is a list of items/repairs to create a cost analysis for the possibility of maintaining Craddock.


Roberto said in the last 10 years, there has been a slow but steady enrollment increase at Miller (pre-K and K) and Craddock (grades 1-2), while Leighton (grades 3-5) rose slightly and Harmon (grades 6-8) has been relatively constant.

“The high school actually has shown a small decrease from a little over 1,000 students to today’s 975,” Roberto said. “The overall result is a fairly steady enrollment of 3,000 students over the last 10 years.

“We are growing, but not nearly at the rate that we were in the late 1990s," he added". Of course, this is not the only variable to consider when investigating the possibility of new construction. We also must look at the buildings themselves.

“It is safe to say that we’ve gotten a lot of use out of the our buildings by adding space over the years, but each of the buildings are approaching capacity.”

Other factors the district is monitoring are future housing growth and the cost of maintenance/upkeep of existing school buildings.

Roberto said there were about 87 homes under construction as of May, while there is a potential for another 400-plus homes to be built in the next four years or so.

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This article originally appeared on Record-Courier: Aurora looking at possibility of a new school building