Your Questions Answered: Facilities Master Planning FAQs

Please click on the subject areas below to find answers to some key questions about facilities master planning.

To return to the Facilities Master Planning homepage, please click here.

Decisions Phase (January 2016-May 2017)

Below are some of the frequently asked questions based on the Financial Advisory Board's initial findings report. (Please click here to read the full report.) 

Why did the Financial Advisory Board suggest a two-phase implementation schedule for the master plan in its initial findings report?

The team's initial finding on the implementation of the master plan is to rebuild the high school and renovate or rebuild all five of the district's elementary schools during a first phase of construction. The high school building, according to professional physical assessments, has the most immediate physical needs, with building systems projected to fail in zero to five years (as of the physical assessments in fall of 2016). 

The Financial Advisory Board expressed serious concerns with delaying construction on the elementary schools.  Members cited inflation in construction costs and a possible increase in interest rates as two of their main financial concerns.  A third concern is having to fund trailers as a temporary remedy for enrollment growth at the elementary schools before addressing that need on a permanent basis.

Upper Arlington is one of the top 10 fastest-growing school districts in Ohio, based on a December 26, 2016, article in The Columbus Dispatch, and this enrollment growth is projected to hit the elementary schools first. Enrollment is projected to grow by more than 10 percent by 2025-2026, according to a third-party annual report ( Planning Advocates Enrollment Report and Projections - August 2016).

The team wrote in its initial findings report that it "feels the community would not and should not support the idea of our elementary school students and staff having to learn and teach in trailers for several years."

We are landlocked. How much can enrollment really grow?

Although Upper Arlington is landlocked, enrollment has been growing and is projected to continue over the next decade.

Anecdotally, homes are turning over in Upper Arlington as homeowners age and new families move in.

According to an article published in The Columbus Dispatch on December 26, 2016, Upper Arlington is one of the top 10 fastest-growing school districts in the state of Ohio. Enrollment has been growing over the past several school years at the elementary level and will continue to significantly impact those schools.

According to an annual third-party projection updated in August 2016, district-wide enrollment is expected to grow by more than 10 percent by 2025-2026 (Planning Advocates Enrollment Report and Projections). District-wide enrollment is currently at approximately 5,980 for the 2016-2017 school year and is projected to grow to approximately 6,690 by the 2025-2026 school year.

How would you take care of needed repairs at the middle schools and Burbank Early Childhood School over the next 10 years?

If the first phase of the master plan includes the high school and all five elementary schools, the district would continue to address any urgent building needs as they arise at the middle schools and Burbank Early Childhood School using permanent improvement funding.

Why did the Financial Advisory Board suggest the Zollinger Road option for the high school over the Brandon Road option?

When the Board of Education approved the master plan in December 2016, it left on the table two options for rebuilding the high school.  Since these options were developed by the high school building teams late in the process, the Board of Education felt additional feedback from both the Financial Advisory Board and the community as a whole was warranted before making a final decision.

The Zollinger Road option, at an estimated cost of approximately $142 million, would locate the front door on Zollinger road with a drop-off lane and relocate and rebuild Marv Moorehead Stadium to maximize the site. The Brandon Road option, at an estimated cost of approximately $137 million, would locate the front door on Brandon Road, a one-way street, and extensively renovate Marv Moorehead Stadium. (To view conceptual illustrations of these options, please click here to view the Financial Advisory Board's initial findings report.)

In its initial findings report, the Financial Advisory Board wrote that Zollinger Road option is a more desirable option for several reasons, including:

  • Better flow of traffic with a drop-off lane and one parking lot entrance on Zollinger Road rather than all traffic coming and leaving the school on narrow one-way streets;

  • Easier access for first responders in case of a medical issue or other emergency;

  • Option for future expansion, if necessary, without removing parking spaces or athletic facilities; and

  • Better overall site layout with all on-site athletic fields having easy access to athletic support spaces.

The Financial Advisory Board wrote in its report that it feels "it is worth the additional cost of option 2 (the Zollinger Road option) to maximize functionality and safety of the high school site for students and community visitors.  While option 1 (the Brandon Road option) would reduce costs initially, the team feels it is less flexible and would likely set up the community for additional costs in the future as enrollment increases and as programming changes."

Why are the estimated costs we’ve seen for new school buildings in other central Ohio districts lower than the estimated costs in Upper Arlington’s master plan?

There is no standard in central Ohio or the state of Ohio for reporting school construction project costs, so it is difficult to compare the costs of one school construction project to another. 

For the Upper Arlington Schools master planning process, the Board of Education has committed to reporting total project costs, including all construction costs; soft costs (design fees, legal fees, furnishings, etc.); temporary classrooms (trailers) and swing spaces; inflation over the duration of the project; and project contingencies that are a standard in the industry. The school construction outlined in Upper Arlington’s master plan also accounts for buildings that would serve our community for 50 or more years. In its discussions, the Financial Advisory Board agreed that Upper Arlington should invest in long-lasting school buildings that would provide a lower total cost over the life of the building instead of a lowest first cost.  

As a cost comparison, we’ll use the most recently completed new high school in central Ohio — Hilliard Bradley.

The cost of rebuilding Upper Arlington High School to face Zollinger Road (the Zollinger Road option) is approximately $142,000,000 in first-quarter 2019 dollars. (First-quarter 2019 dollars are used in all of Upper Arlington’s estimates to reflect when construction would begin on the first phase of the master plan.) In its initial findings report, the Financial Advisory Board supported the Zollinger Road option over the Brandon Road option, which would rebuild the high school facing Brandon Road at a cost of approximately $137,000,000.

The total project cost for building Hilliard Bradley, adjusted for inflation to first-quarter 2019 dollars, is approximately $103,000,000. That figure, though, does not include the costs of: a natatorium or an auditorium of similar size to those in a rebuilt Upper Arlington High School; abatement and demolition of the current school building; an additional synthetic turf field for athletic practices; longer-lasting finishes that contribute to a lower total lifecycle cost for a building; and additional classroom space. With those additional costs factored in, a new Hilliard Bradley would cost approximately $144,000,000 in first-quarter 2019 dollars.

Will the costs of operating these larger new or renovated buildings go up?

Although any rebuilt or renovated Upper Arlington school buildings would be larger, the district anticipates realizing operational efficiencies in those buildings. Because of those operational efficiencies, the district does not anticipate an increase in the costs of operating those buildings.

What are the cost impacts of a turf field at Tremont? What would the site look like?

The Financial Advisory Board agreed in its initial findings that the Board of Education should pursue a turf field on the district’s property behind Tremont Elementary as a transitional athletic space for student-athletes during construction at the high school. Upon completion of construction at the high school, the field would still be used by student-athletes and would also be available for use by the community. The FAB also agreed that the district add needed junior varsity baseball and softball diamonds at the Tremont site.

The FAB suggested that the district explore the option of sharing the cost of the turf field with the City of Upper Arlington. The district’s portion of the turf field, the cost of the needed junior varsity baseball and softball diamonds, and the expense to address drainage issues at the Tremont site would total $1,220,000, and that estimated cost is included in the suggested $230,000,000 first phase of the master plan.

An illustration for a turf field as well as baseball and softball diamonds on the district's property behind Tremont Elementary will be shared here as soon as it is available.

Why aren’t the bond issue and the operating levy being pursued separately?

The bond issue and the operating levy would really only work when combined.

If the bond issue were to pass but the levy were to fail, the district would not have the operating revenue to maintain current programming and would be forced to make significant cuts.

If the levy were to pass but the bond issue were to fail, the district would have to use operating funding to address physical needs as they arise in our school buildings, starting almost immediately at the high school. The district would be forced to make significant cuts in educational programming in order to free up operating money to cover emergency repairs to the school buildings to keep them safe, dry and secure for students and staff.

This fix-it-as-it-breaks approach would also be more expensive in the long term because, without bond funding upfront to cover all project costs, for example, a wall might have to be ripped out and replaced to fix plumbing and, only a year later, ripped out and replaced again to fix electrical.

What would the duration of the operating levy be? What would the duration of the bond issue be?

Operating levies are the primary way school districts in Ohio deal with inflation in the cost of operating expenses.

The 3.75-mill operating levy suggested by the Financial Advisory Board in its initial findings would be continuous. As property values increase, though, the millage collected for each voted levy is reduced to ensure the school’s funding from the levy remains flat, pursuant with House Bill 920.

With the 3.75-mill operating levy proposed by the Financial Advisory Board, the Board of Education would anticipate not having to return to voters for a new, continuous operating levy to deal with inflation for three years.

The 5.17-mill bond issue proposed by the Financial Advisory Board in its initial findings would be collected over 38 years, assuming level payments at an estimated interest rate of 5 percent. This bond issue would cover the cost of the first phase of the master plan as proposed in the FAB’s initial findings, which includes rebuilding the high school and rebuilding or renovating all five elementary schools.

How do I calculate approximately what the FAB's initial finding for a suggested 8.92-mill combined operating levy and bond issue would mean to me?

The FAB suggests in its initial findings report that the Upper Arlington Board of Education pursue a 3.75-mill operating levy combined with an additional 5.17-mill bond issue in November 2017. 

An 8.92-mill combined levy would cost the owner of a home with a current market value of $400,000 (as determined by the county auditor) an additional $1,249 in property tax each year.  Compared with 2017 tax numbers, that would be approximately a 14 percent increase in overall property taxes and a 21 percent increase in school-related property taxes.

To find the current market value of your home,  click here to visit the Franklin County auditor's website to search for your property. (You may search by owner's name or address.) 

On your property's listing, scroll down to find the 2016 Current Market Value box as displayed below. 

An image of the 2016 Current Market Value box from the county auditor's website

To calculate the potential increase in your property taxes, take the total current market value for your property listed in the right hand column on the auditor's website. An 8.92-mill combined levy would cost the owner of a home with a current market value of $400,000 (as determined by the county auditor) an additional $1,249 in property tax each year, or approximately an additional $312 per year per $100,000 in current market home value.

Options Phase (January 2016-December 2016)

How were the options for each school building developed?

As part of the facilities master planning process, the district formed building teams for each of the nine school buildings made up of community residents, staff members and parents. These teams of volunteers met with a team of facilities professionals and brainstormed features of future-ready schools and important aspects of the current school building that would need to be incorporated into any options developed. They also learned about what other districts across the nation are doing to ensure students are prepared for their future and not our past.

Throughout the process, the team of experts refined and revised the working options based on feedback from the building teams and residents participating in a series of community-wide engagement sessions. The working options as presented at the Community Engagement Session in April and the updated options for Upper Arlington High School and Jones Middle School as presented at the Building Team Summit in September can be viewed in the documents below.

Districtwide Working Options - April 2016

Updated UAHS & Jones Working Options - September 2016

What do the illustrations of the working options show?

These illustrations of the working options show only that the needed square footage would fit on the site. If the voters were to approve a bond issue to fund renovate or rebuild options at any of our schools, the district would then engage the community in the process of designing the building or buildings.

For a legend explaining the illustrations of the working options, please click here

What does the "+" mean in the Repair+ and Renovate+ options?

The "+" indicates that the option includes repair or renovation of the buildings plus additional classroom or common space due to projected increases in enrollment. Based on a report commissioned by the district and completed in November 2015, districtwide enrollment is projected to grow more than 10 percent over the next 10 years, from the current 5,918 students to 6,715 students in 2025-26.  

Planning Advocates Enrollment Report and Projections - November 2015

These projections are updated annually to ensure the district understands the future growth within its boundaries. A preliminary update of the projections was issued in August 2016 and presented at the Building Team Summit on September 14, 2016. 

Planning Advocates Enrollment Report and Projections - August 2016

In the Repair+ or Renovate+ working options for each school building, any added classroom space is based on year six of these enrollment projections because the prospective pupils have already been born and are living in the district. Any expansion in common spaces such as cafeterias is based on the 10th year of the enrollment projection.

I heard the district is planning to tear down UAHS and build a new high school. Is that true?

Community feedback was gathered on a total of eight options to repair, renovate or rebuild Upper Arlington High School. Four rebuild options were introduced at Community Engagement Session 4 in April 2016 (UAHS Working Options - April 2016). Two additional rebuild options, created based on suggestions from community members on the building teams, were introduced at the second Building Team Summit in September 2016 (Updated UAHS Working Options - September 2016).

Superintendent Paul Imhoff included in his master plan recommendation the two most recently introduced options, Rebuild Option E and Rebuild Option F, which would involve rebuilding the high school within its current site and would either significantly renovate or relocate Marv Moorehead Stadium. He recommended that the Board of Education and the district continue to gather community feedback on these two options before ultimately choosing one of the options during the decisions phase. The Board of Education will take action on the recommendation at the December 13, 2016, meeting.

Do these working options include future-ready learning spaces?

Just as our world has changed dramatically during the last 50 years, so has education.  Renovated or newly built UA schools will be future-ready learning environments that properly support student learning now and well into the future. Repair options, however, do not create future-ready buildings. 

Because the district's nine school buildings are, on average, 60 years old, the current learning environments "are designed and built for a different educational model, a different economy and different educational outcomes," according to an educational adequacy report commissioned by the district.

Read the Perkins + Will Districtwide Educational Adequacy Report

How long can we expect a UA project to serve our community?

UA projects will be designed for 50-plus years of service to our community. UA is committed to investing in long-lasting, future-ready school buildings that will serve students in our community for generations to come.

Just as with a home, the school buildings will still need to undergo maintenance work over time, but the district is committed to best preparing our buildings for future generations as the community did in the 1950s, when many of the current school buildings were constructed.

Will UA projects fit in with the aesthetics of our community?

Yes. Cost estimates include features that are commonly found in Upper Arlington such as brick exteriors and large windows to provide adequate daylighting.

Will the facilities include comparable arts and athletic venues?

Yes. UA will provide appropriate and comparable performance and competition venues that will continue to support a strong tradition of excellence in academics, athletics, and the arts.

Do the UA project estimates reflect only part of those costs?

No. UA is committed to reporting the total project costs. UA project estimates include all:

  • Construction costs;

  • Soft costs (design fees, legal fees, furnishings, etc.);

  • Temporary classrooms (trailers) and swing spaces;

  • Inflation over the duration of the project; and

  • Project contingencies that are a standard in the industry.

Are UA costs based on current dollars?

No. The costs are based on 2019 dollars (updated in April 2017). The two-year facilities master planning process timeline calls for the community to vote on a potential bond issue in the fall of 2017.  If approved, construction would start no earlier than 2019.

How did the district calculate the projected annual cost to homeowners in each option?

The millage calculations used by the district are based on a few assumptions. First, the estimated annual cost is based on $400,000 in auditor-appraised home value. The average auditor-appraised value of a home in Upper Arlington is about $400,000. If your home value is less than $400,000, the estimated cost per year would be lower. If your home value is more than $400,000, the estimated cost would be higher.

Second, these calculations assume that the bonds are financed over 38 years at 5% interest with level principal payment structure. Bonds are structured similar to a home mortgage. The payback period of a bond is up to 38 years. The interest rate is affected by the bond rating, and the district has the highest bond rating — AAA — from Standard & Poor’s.

The third assumption is that there will be no change in the district’s total property valuation for 38 years.


Below are some of the questions that were submitted through this website or asked in the comments sections of the community-wide survey during the Options Phase.

Where is the answer “repair when needed?”

A reactionary approach is often the most expensive approach to capital maintenance of buildings. To ensure that money is being spent on kids and in the classrooms, a long-term plan is needed

I notice that no total, clear estimate for how much the $400k homeowners' taxes will go up per year will be, only per project. And, why is there no option for "no change in school" offered? Also, why is this all happening at the same time for maximum increase in taxes, as opposed to being phased in per school. Also, why is there no estimate for the cost for land acquisition included, as that would be no small sum?

The annual cost to taxpayers is listed on a per project basis because we do not yet know which option will be pursued for each building.  We are collecting community feedback in order to guide us in our recommendations to the Board of Education.

There is not a "no change" option because two separate physical assessments have shown that many of the major internal systems in all of our buildings will reach the end of their useful life in the next 15 years.  The buildings are on average more than 60 years old, and while we have been able to stretch the life of many of those system beyond expectations, we know that major repairs/replacements cannot be avoided in the near future.  

No decisions have been made regarding the exact timing of this work or how it could be phased.  The physical assessments indicated that the majority of the work at the high school would be needed in the next zero to five years.  The majority of the needs at the elementary schools fall into the five to 10 year category, and the middle school needs are farther out at 10 to 15 years.  The master plan we are creating is to ensure we are have a comprehensive long-term plan to address these issues instead of dealing with them on an emergency, case-by-case basis, which can be the most costly option.   

We don't have estimates on potential land acquisition yet because we won't enter into negotiations for property until we know if that is something the community would like us to pursue. 

(Please not that land acquisition was removed from consideration based upon the community feedback during the Options Phase. — Updated April 2017)

Am I correct that the cost per homeowner at a home valuation of $400,000 would range from $813 - $1610 per year for 38 years in new taxes?  I understand that some buildings have more critical needs than others. Is the plan to go for a bond issue to cover the whole cost (as I outlined in question 1), or to reduce the ask and go to voters in increments depending on the timeline of needs?

Yes, your math in adding up the lowest and highest cost options in the survey is correct.  We understand that these are large numbers, and we take that very seriously.  It's one of the reasons we feel transparency and community feedback are so incredibly important in this process.  As UA residents, we all need to be involved in this important discussion that balances the future of our schools and learning environments against what is best for our community financially.

You asked if the district would pursue one large bond issue or go for multiple smaller issues depending on the timeline of needs.  The answer is that all options are still on the table.  Right now we are collecting community feedback in order to make a master plan recommendation to the Board of Education in the fall of 2016.  That plan will lay out what type of work is to be done at each building.

After the Board decides on a master plan, we will get to work collecting professional and community feedback on the best way to fund and phase the plan.  We will convene a committee of residents with expertise in this area to research all of our options and make a recommendation.  We will also hold a set of community meetings to share those findings with residents and get additional feedback and ideas.  Our treasurer, Andrew Geistfeld, will use all of this community input to form his own funding/timing recommendation to the Board of Education in the spring of 2017.  

Is Burbank available to all UA residents? Is there any fee for the preschool? Is there a waiting list?

Burbank is available to all residents looking for preschool care.  Burbank does have a fee structure, and all the information about the Burbank program including its fees can be found by clicking here. For questions about the program, please call 614-487- 5155.

Your idea of having the community vote as to what should be done with each individual school to gauge community sentiment is to be applauded. I just competed the survey.  However this seems to me an inappropriate methodology to decide on which avenue is the best for any school. Some may vote on the least costly solution when another choice is more appropriate. It seems to me professionals in the construction industry should weigh in with their recommendations as to the best solution for each building and then submit them to the public. You're elected to make decisions and recommendations. We should not be crowd sourcing  decisions of this magnitude but should rely on experts in the field.

We agree that this type of decision requires a lot of professional consulting, thought and research from many angles.  Throughout the process we have utilized the expertise of community members who specialize in the areas of construction and real estate.  These volunteers make up our Facilities Task Force and have helped to oversee our planning process.  In addition, professionals from Turner Construction and architects from Perkins + Will and Moody Nolan worked with our building team volunteers to create the options you see in the survey.

As we move forward, the community survey will be one of five data points used to formulate our master plan recommendation to the Board of Education in the fall of 2016.  The other data points are feedback from the local experts on the Facilities Task Force, feedback from the residents who attended our community engagement sessions, feedback from the volunteers on our building teams, and finally, the results of a scientific phone survey that will be conducted later this fall.  Three of those data points have already been collected, and you can see the results on our website.  We will post the community survey and scientific telephone survey results too once they are complete.

Is there an estimate of how long the repair/renovation/rebuilds should each last if maintained as well as the existing buildings were maintained?  Knowing the benefits of how long each choice should/could last would be helpful in deciding which option is best.

This is a question that has been frequently asked throughout this process. UA projects will be designed for 50-plus years of service to our community. UA is committed to investing in long-lasting, future-ready school buildings that will serve students in our community for generations to come.

Just as with a home, the school buildings will still need to undergo maintenance work over time, but the district is committed to best preparing our buildings for future generations as the community did in the 1950s, when many of the current school buildings were constructed.

Assessment Phase (January 2015-December 2015)

Why is there "no zero-cost option" for our schools?

Physical assessments shared with the community in the fall of 2015 found that it will cost the district about $188 million over 15 years to simply keep its aging school buildings in working order. This figure does not include the extra space needed to accommodate the projected enrollment growth over the next 10 years.

The district's nine school buildings are, on average, more than 60 years old. Because of the age of the buildings, many systems behind the walls, above the ceilings and under the floors — HV/AC, plumbing, electrical — are nearing their end of life and will present a very immediate problem when they fail. In a briefing paper presented to the Board of Education, the community volunteers on the Efficiency and Productivity Work Team suggested that simply repairing the schools as systems fail might not be the best, most cost-effective path forward. As a result, the district engaged the community in a facilities master planning process to explore additional possibilities for the future of our schools and the generations of students to come.

Read more about the physical assessments

Which school buildings are in the most urgent need of repair?

The assessments conducted during the first phase of the master planning process show the high school needs immediate attention, with most of the repairs needed in the next five years. The assessments of the elementary schools show a need for major repairs in five to 10 years.  Middle school assessments indicate the majority of the work in those buildings will be needed in about 10 to 15 years.


Our schools seem fine. Why did the district start a master planning process for facilities?

The facilities master planning process was one of the main recommendations of the Productivity and Efficiency Work Team, a group of Upper Arlington residents with expertise in private-sector business practices, back in 2014. As a part of the Efficiency Project and the strategic planning process, this group of volunteers delved into the district’s finances and operations to spot additional opportunities for efficiency measures. The team provided a briefing paper for the Board of Education that identified the cost of maintaining aging schools as the biggest threat to the district’s long-term financial health. The team recommended engaging the entire community in a thorough and thoughtful process to ensure facilities funds are being spent wisely.

Your Questions Answered: Video FAQs Archive

"Why isn't there a 'do nothing' option?"

"Didn't you maintain the buildings appropriately?" 

"Haven't you already decided what you want to do?"

"Will all of these projects be done at once?"


"Is enrollment factored into these options?


"Why do we need to make repairs or renovations at buildings that have had work done in the past 20 years?" 


Don't see an answer to your question?  Click here to submit a new question.

Contact Information

Robin Comfort
Board President

Paul Imhoff

1950 North Mallway Drive
Upper Arlington, Ohio 43221
 (614) 487-5012

1950 North Mallway Drive
Upper Arlington, Ohio 43221
(614) 487-5000

Challenge and support every student,
every step of the way.

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